MillerCoors began its counter-attack against Bud Light on Tuesday with a full-page ad in the New York Times that defended Miller Lite's use of corn syrup.
The ad, addressed to the "beer drinkers of America," makes the distinction between corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup, which MillerCoors does not use. "To be clear, 'corn syrup' is a normal part of the brewing process and does not even end up in your great tasting can of Miller Lite," the ad states.
Anheuser-Busch InBev used three Bud Light Super Bowl ads by Wieden & Kennedy New York to dramatize MillerCoors' use of corn syrup by showing big barrels of it delivered to mythical Coors Light and Miller Lite kingdoms as part of Bud Light's ongoing medieval-themed campaign. The ads drew a rebuke from the corn industry.
Chicago-based MillerCoors sought to leverage some of the farmbelt support in its ad by noting that it sources the corn syrup from "America's heartland."
"It's unfortunate that our competitor's Big Game ad created an unnecessary #corntroversy," states the ad in the New York Times, which is by DDB Chicago. "However, we thank them for starting this conversation on such a big stage because it allows us to clarify the truth and remind beer drinkers that Miller Lite has more taste than Bud Light with fewer calories and half the carbs."
A MillerCoors spokesman said the New York Times ad would be followed by other marketing, including on social media. "We think it's strange Bud Light would create a controversy about something that's not in your can of beer anyways, since it gets consumed in the fermentation process," he said in an email.
AB InBev responded in a statement: "Bud Light's campaign has always been about transparency and giving consumers what they want. We're glad that other brewers have joined us in this conversation. Increased transparency can only be good for beer."
The brewer went on to clarify that "while Bud Light has never used corn syrup, Anheuser-Busch does use it in certain value brands, which are driven by price. Anheuser-Busch proudly supports farmers and the agricultural community. We source our ingredients from U.S. farmers, including 98 percent of our barley, 100 percent of our rice and all of our corn. Last year, Anheuser-Busch purchased more than 1 billion pounds of corn ingredients. We fully support corn growers and will continue to invest in the corn industry.
The brewer added: "Consumers have made Bud Light the number one selling beer in the U.S. because it's a quality light lager made with only four simple ingredients: water, barley, rice and hops. That's a fact."
Below, the full Miller Lite ad.