FTC Weighs In on A-B InBev, MillerCoors Beer Can Dispute

'World's Most Refreshing Can' Ads Get Government Scrutiny

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Does Coors Light really come in the "World's Most Refreshing Can?" We may never know.

The ad claim was at the center of a cold war that brewed last year between beer titans Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors. A-B InBev took issue with the marketing surrounding Coors Light, which through packaging and ads touted the superiority of its cans. Claims included an assertion that the "double-vented wide mouth can" produced a "smoother, more refreshing pour."

A-B InBev called the claims bogus and asked the ad industry's National Advertising Division to weigh in. MillerCoors responded that the request for action was frivolous and declined to participate in the self-regulatory review. So the NAD forwarded the complaint to the Federal Trade Commission.

Nearly a year later, the FTC has finally weighed in … sort of.

In a recent letter to MillerCoors provided to Ad Age by the NAD, the FTC stated that "we have determined not to recommend enforcement action at this time." But that does not mean the government agrees with MillerCoors.

Rather, the FTC stated that one reason it was not taking action was because MillerCoors had voluntarily "ceased making the claims at issue in all marketing materials, including on the product's labeling." The FTC added that "the closing of the investigation is not to be construed as a determination that a violation of law did not occur," and that it reserves the right to take further action "as the public interest may warrant."

While Coors Light continues to use the "world's most refreshing beer" tagline, the brewer last year told the NAD that the can campaign was scheduled to end at the end of September of 2013. Recently Coors Light has been touting its special edition cans that feature colorful artistic designs.

The dispute came as both brewers last year made a big fuss about their cans. A-B InBev, for instance, touted its own Bud Light "vented can," which it described as "featuring a first-of-its-kind self contained venting tab that delivers the world's smoothest drinking experience in a can."

MillerCoors last year defended the can campaign, with a spokesman telling Ad Age that "all of the statements regarding the can either clearly are intended as acceptable marketing puffery or have been proven through extensive testing as accurate."

MillerCoors declined to comment on the FTC decision. A-B InBev did not immediately return a request for comment.

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