MillerCoors sued Anheuser-Busch, maker of Bud Light, over the advertising campaign it launched during last month's Super Bowl, taking the so-called Corn Syrup War to court.
The Chicago-based beer maker alleges the commercials deceive consumers over MillerCoors' use of corn syrup in the brewing process. While Miller Lite and Coors Light use corn syrup as a fermentation aid, the corn syrup is not present in the beer once brewing is finished, MillerCoors says.
The lawsuit further alleges that Anheuser-Busch knew consumers try not to ingest high-fructose corn syrup and would confuse the sweetener with corn syrup.
Bud Light fired the first salvo in the Corn Syrup War last month with an ad depicting a mythical king on a quest to return the corn syrup mistakenly delivered to his castle to Miller Lite's and Coors Light's castles.
"MillerCoors seeks to set the record straight" with the lawsuit, according to the complaint, filed Thursday in Wisconsin federal court. The company uses corn syrup only to feed the yeast in the fermentation process for Coors Light and Miller Lite, and does not use high-fructose corn syrup at any point, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit accuses Anheuser-Busch of false advertising by suggesting otherwise, and of diluting the Coors Lite and Miller Lite trademarks.
"Anheuser-Busch is fearmongering over a common beer ingredient it uses in many of its own beers, as a fermentation aid that is not even present in the final product," said Marty Maloney, manager of media relations at MillerCoors, in a statement. "This deliberate deception is bad for the entire beer category. We are showing the world the truth."
Anheuser-Busch maintains that the Bud Light campaign is truthful. Gemma Hart, vice president of communications, said in a statement said that the ads are meant "to point out a key difference from Miller Lite and Coors Light."
"MillerCoors' lawsuit is baseless and will not deter Bud Light from providing consumers with the transparency they demand," the statement said. "We stand behind the Bud Light transparency campaign and have no plans to change the advertising."
This not the first time MillerCoors has demonstrated its distaste with the ads.
Weeks after Bud Light first aired its corn syrup ads, MillerCoors pulled out of a beer industry advertising collaboration with Anheuser-Busch. Additionally, MillerCoors is planning to strike back with two ads set to air during March Madness broadcasts. They will show a mock look at the costumed knights and crew behind the scenes of the Bud Light Super Bowl ads cracking open cans of Miller Lite.
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