Anheuser-Busch must back off some of its print and TV ads attacking Miller Lite’s use of corn syrup, a federal judge ruled Friday.
The brewing giant, which makes Bud Light, kicked off an ad campaign during the Super Bowl with a commercial set in “Dilly Dilly” land touting Bud Light’s use of rice, not corn syrup. The commercial sparked outrage from corn growers, who pointed out that other beers brewed by Anheuser-Busch are made with corn syrup and that while Miller uses corn syrup in the brewing process, no corn syrup is contained in the final product.
U.S. District Judge William Conley partially granted MillerCoors’ request for a preliminary injunction, barring AB — beginning June 3 — from using ads that say Bud Light contains “100% less corn syrup” or describe “corn syrup” as an ingredient “in” the finished product. Nor can AB run ads that simply picture Bud Light with the words “no corn syrup” and Miller Lite with “corn syrup.”
Conley said MillerCoors’ “strongest evidence” thus far is that Bud’s own statement show “it was both aware of and intended to exploit consumer concerns about corn syrup (and high fructose corn syrup in particular).” In issuing the injunction, Conley said “plaintiff’s evidence is sufficient to support a finding … that it has some likelihood of success in proving defendant’s advertisements deceived or have the tendency to deceive a substantial segment of consumers to believe that Miller Lite and Coors Light actually contain corn syrup.”
The case is continuing.
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