Regulators Take a Side in Molson Coors and Anheuser-Busch Feud Over Beer Ad
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Regulators Take a Side in Molson Coors and Anheuser-Busch Feud Over Beer Ad

Molson Coors Can No Longer Say Rivals’ Beers ‘Taste Like Water’ in Ads, Says Regulator

(Photo: Miller Lite/YouTube)

Apparently, Molson Coors went too far with one of its funny beer ads. A regulatory group told Molson Coors to stop running its ad that compared rivals’ light beer to water.

Anheuser-Busch challenged a 2022 ad for Miller Lite because it used the phrase “light beer shouldn’t taste like water, it should taste like beer.” The Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division (NAD) took Anheuser-Busch’s side on this matter and said Molson Coors should end the ad because it was “not puffery or a mere opinion,” as reported by CNN

The ad in question showed a cyclist riding uphill when he takes a break on the side of the road. The cyclist takes a blue can with white lettering out of his pocket, cracks it open and then douses himself with the contents labeled extremely light beer. While the rival beer is not specifically mentioned, there is a certain resemblance to Bud Light packaging.

NAD decided that it “determined that tasting ‘like water’ is a measurable attribute.” In addition, customers might “reasonably expect that the statement is supported by such evidence.”

The NAD continued that Molson Coors should cease the ad because the business “did not submit evidence supporting the claim that any other light beers ‘taste like water.’”

In response to NAD’s decision, Anheuser-Busch stated, “True stewards of the beer industry should be working together to strengthen the beer category instead of resorting to misleading attacks that denigrate products enjoyed by millions of beer drinkers.”

Molson Coors appears to be doubling down and will appeal the decision. A spokesperson said, “[Molson Coors] vehemently disagrees with this decision because we believe light beer should taste like beer, not water, and we are well within our right to share that belief.”

A spokesperson also pointed out that the ad hasn’t aired since last August and questioned Anheuser-Busch’s “sudden concern.”

While NAD’s decisions are not legally binding, cases can escalate to the Federal Trade Commission when advertisers do not comply with their decisions.  

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Jessica Gleman is the managing editor of Rum Raiders. She received her Ph.D. at the University College of Dublin in Ireland, where she studied the archaeology of ancient alcohol. Jessica has a passion for the alcohol industry, including agriculture, distillation and mixology. When Jessica is not writing about rum, she is also a travel and food enthusiast who loves going around the world and experiencing various cuisines and cultures. She is enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge and expertise and learning even more about this amazing spirit.