NAD Recommends MillerCoors Alter Taste-Protection Claims

Report Follows Complaints From Rival Anheuser-Busch

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CHICAGO ( -- So it turns out Miller Lite's "new taste protector cap" wasn't so new after all.

The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that MillerCoors alter certain claims related to its allegedly taste-protecting packaging, following a complaint filed by the company's larger rival, Anheuser-Busch.

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In a statement, NAD said it "determined that consumers could interpret these advertisements to mean that Miller Lite's bottle caps and can lids have been improved by the addition of a 'special' barrier that has the ability to better preserve the taste of the beer. The advertiser conceded that there have been no changes to the bottle cap or can lid that would constitute a technological advance."

According to the NAD report, MillerCoors countered that its claims referred to a benefit that Lite bottles and cans have long offered but never before touted.

"NAD further noted that while advertisers can change marketing strategies to promote the different features of their product, they must do so truthfully to avoid any potential overstatement or consumer confusion," said NAD's report.

Promoting the taste-protector packaging has been a key tenet of MillerCoors' attempt to revive declining sales of Miller Lite with a singular focus on the brand's taste. The marketer has had success in recent years using a similar one-note approach with Coors Light's "cold refreshment." Boosted by packaging innovations such as a label that turns blue when the beer is at optimal drinking temperature, Coors Light has seen the best sales trends of any mass-marketed premium light beer.

MillerCoors also shifted Miller Lite's creative account to Coors Light's agency, DraftFCB. But one of Draft's first efforts for the brand -- a mafia parody on the need for "protection" starring Sopranos star Frank Vincent -- wound up being pulled off the air after a Italian-American group complained about its use of stereotypes.

MillerCoors said that while it disagrees with some of NAD's contentions, "the company will take NAD's recommendations into account in future advertising."

That may not affect Lite's advertising much, as the brand has already shifted its taste messaging away from packaging into a series of ads spoofing dating site ads, which focus on whether consumers "love" their beer.

In a statement, Keith Levy, A-B's vice president of marketing, said the No. 1 brewer was pleased with the ruling. "We're pleased the NAD agreed that Miller Lite's packaging does not provide special taste protection, having no characteristics beyond ordinary beer cans and bottles. We believe it is important for consumers to not be misled by such a claim.

The full NAD report is available online.

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