Dogged by Miller, A-B Responds With Charity

Lite Vows to Keep Nipping at Bud Light's Heels

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CHICAGO ( -- Well, that didn't take long: Three days after Miller Lite began airing Budweiser-mocking ads designed to provoke Anheuser-Busch into another beer war, A-B is hitting back -- with a charitable donation.

Miller last weekend began airing "Dalmation," a fairly transparent spoof of an A-B Super Bowl ad. In Miller's new ad a dog leaps from a familiar red A-B Clydesdale hitch into a Miller Lite truck, to the soundtrack of "Unchain My Heart." The ad began airing during Saturday's college football games.

'Keep up the bad work'
Budweiser responded with a full-page ad on the back of USA Today's sports section today, with a large-type heading: "Keep up the bad work, Miller Beer. It's getting a lot of good things done."

The text: "Apparently, Miller Beer believes they have to say negative things about our brands to sell their beer. At Budweiser, we're positive there's a better way of doing things. In fact, we're committed to creating something positive out of their recent negative advertising.

"Their latest attack? Our wagon-riding dalmation. Our response? A donation to a number of animal rescue groups across America.

"For over 130 years, Budweiser has believed in doing things right. We're not going to stop now."

The foot of the page features a cuddly puppy, the Budweiser logo and a tagline: "Doing things the right way."

In a statement, A-B VP-Marketing David A. Peacock, said, "We decided to turn their negative into a positive gesture from us by making a donation to animal rescue organizations." Swiped at parent last time
The quick response to Miller's mocking comes after A-B executives had long sworn they wouldn't again be provoked into another slugfest with Miller, which successfully provoked A-B into swinging down at it in 2003 and 2004 with a series of comparative ads. A-B's response then wasn't as warm and fuzzy as a donation to animal shelters: It hit on Miller's South African-based parent company as evidence that the Milwaukee brewer was foreign-owned.

That fight seemed to benefit Miller, which gained market share in both years and didn't lose momentum until A-B slashed its long-held price premium in early 2005. A-B executives subsequently said they'd learned their lesson when it came to punching down and vowed not to do it again.

The ad is one of the first efforts from Miller Lite's new agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York.

A Miller spokesman vowed to continue to pester A-B. "We are going to continue to have fun in pointing out that Miller Lite has more taste and half the carbs of Bud Light. We know we have a better beer and we are going to keep telling people about it."

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