MillerCoors is suing the maker of Bud Light over its controversial Super Bowl ads about corn syrup in beer

Bud Light BeerHollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • Bud Light mocked Coors Light and Miller Lite over the beer brands' use of corn syrup in a series of ads that aired during the Super Bowl.
  • On Thursday, MillerCoors took legal action, accusing Anheuser-Busch of false advertising and trademark dilution in a suit filed in the Western District Court of Wisconsin.
  • MillerCoors alleges that Bud Light knowingly misled customers into thinking that MillerCoors uses high-fructose corn syrup in its light beers. High-fructose corn syrup has been linked to obesity and other health issues.

Bud Light's corn syrup-centric Super Bowl commercial sparked a major feud between two of the world's larger beer producers in February.

Now MillerCoors, the company that the Bud Light ad called out for using corn syrup, is taking its grievances to court.

MillerCoors filed a federal complaint in the Western District Court of Wisconsin on Thursday, accusing Anheuser-Busch of false advertising and trademark dilution.

During the Super Bowl, Bud Light ran a series of ads that mocked Coors Light and Miller Lite for using corn syrup to make their light beers.

The backlash from MillerCoors was almost instantaneous.

"We're proud of our beers, we're proud of our ingredients and we're happy to have this fight because we know Bud Light has more calories and more carbs, while Miller Lite has more taste and Coors Light is the World's Most Refreshing Beer," a representative said in a statement to Business Insider in February.

"This fight shows we're getting under the competition's skin, and we're ready to take more of their market share too."

Read more: Coors Light, Miller Lite, and corn farmers are slamming Bud Light for Super Bowl ads that called out beer giants' use of corn syrup

In Thursday's court filing, MillerCoors accused Anheuser-Busch of knowingly misleading consumers by linking Coors Light and Miller Lite to high-fructose corn syrup.

"AB plotted an extensive and pervasive advertising scheme designed to frighten consumers into switching away from Miller Lite and Coors Light to Bud Light," MillerCoors said in the court filing.

It continued: "AB's purported rationale for this campaign, 'transparency,' is a classic example of corporate double-speak. While claiming to be 'transparent,' AB purposely fails to inform consumers of these material facts."

AB's chief marketing officer in the US previously told Business Insider that he felt the ad campaign was a necessary risk as younger drinkers increasingly ditch beer.

"We know that a lot of people believe that these beers are all the same," US CMO Marcel Marcondes said. "So if we decide to really go transparent, I think it's fair for us to highlight like the differences that do exist among the beers. Then, consumers should make their call."

But MillerCoors claims that Bud Light knowingly misled customers into thinking that MillerCoors uses high-fructose corn syrup in its light beers.

"AB knew that if it could mislead consumers into believing that Miller Lite and Coors Light contain corn syrup or HFCS - a 'triggering' substance, by AB's own account - it could frighten them into switching away from those brands in favor of Bud Light," the filing said, adding that MillerCoors uses ordinary corn syrup in the fermentation process only.

"AB's claims that Miller Lite and Coors Light beers are 'made with' corn syrup are false and misleading because they fail to provide consumers with the necessary context: that corn syrup is not present in the final beers," it continued.

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