MillerCoors Sues Budweiser over Super Bowl Ad Campaign

March 22, 2019, 3:33 PM UTC

To beer drinkers, the ongoing back and forth between MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev might seem “silly silly,” but to the two beer giants, it’s a big enough deal that they’re taking the battle to court.

MillerCoors has sued its rival over AB InBev public statements regarding the use of corn syrup in MillerCoors’ beers. The brewer is seeking injunctive relief for what it calls “a false and misleading advertising campaign targeting Miller Lite and Coors Light.”

The kerfuffle, which has become known as “Corngate,” started with three Super Bowl ads for Bud Light that noted Miller Lite and Coors Lite both use corn syrup in their brewing process. MillerCoors immediately rallied support from the corn industry right after the game and posted a full page ad to the “beer drinkers of America” in The New York Times. The two companies continued to debate the issue on social media long after the game ended.

Corn syrup, like rice in Bud Light, is used as a fermenting agent, not as a sweetener for the beer. It does not end up in the final product, MillerCoors says. But in the lawsuit, the brewer says AB InBev is trying to deceive consumers into thinking otherwise. It also claimed the ads diluted its trademarks.

“AB’s purported rationale for this campaign, `transparency,’ is a classic example of corporate double-speak,” said MillerCoors in the court filing.

Despite the ribbing it gives MillerCoors in the ads, it’s worth noting that Anheuser-Busch uses corn syrup in some of its other beer products.