The New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams weren’t the only competitors going after each other on Super Bowl Sunday.
Bud Light ran a medieval-themed commercial during the first half of Super Bowl LIII slamming Miller Lite and Coors Light for including corn syrup in their beers. In the ad, a huge barrel of corn syrup is mistakenly delivered to a Bud Light castle — and then the king has to lug it around to the Coors and Miller castles to see which of its competitors the corn syrup belongs to.
“Dilly Dilly was a big piece of our medieval world and really helped us break into culture last year,” said Andy Goeler, vice president of marketing for Bud Light, according to AdWeek. “We figured what a great opportunity to continue to use the medieval world with a fun approach, and in a fun way let people know about what is in our beer and what’s not in our beer and introduce this concept of ingredient transparency.”
Miller Lite’s ingredients — in order — are water, barley, corn syrup, yeast, hops and hops extract, according to MillerCoors’ website. Coors Light is made from water, barley malt, corn syrup, yeast and hop extract, MillerCoors says. Bud Light, meanwhile, is just beginning to list its ingredients (water, barley, rice and hops) prominently on its label, which isn’t a legal requirement for beers, according to USA Today.
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“This is an important message that we want to deliver,” said Goeler, according to USA TODAY Sports. “And what better way to do it than to call on our medieval characters?”
But the corn lobby was quick to take offense — and to pounce on Bud Light’s anti-corn syrup message.
“America’s corn farmers are disappointed in you,” the National Corn Growers Association wrote on Twitter, responding to the ad. “Our office is right down the road! We would love to discuss with you the many benefits of corn!”
Corn growers had kinder words for MillerCoors.
Anheuser-Busch, Bud Light’s parent company, said it isn’t anti-corn farmer.
“Anheuser-Busch fully supports corn growers and will continue to invest in the corn industry,” Anheuser-Busch said in a statement emailed to McClatchy. “Bud Light’s Super Bowl commercials are only meant to point out a key difference in Bud Light from some other light beers. This effort is to provide consumers transparency and elevate the beer category.”
Bud Light ran more anti-corn syrup ads later in the game.
“We think Bud Light, as the leader in this category, needs to make a bold move,” Goeler said, per AdWeek. “Starting to talk about ingredient transparency will help elevate beer as a category and hold us to a higher standard.”
The ad — which AdWeek described as “savage” — ran for a full minute.
AdAge reports that Bud Light’s decision to go after other brands was unorthodox: “It’s unusual for a bigger brand to target two smaller ones; typically, it’s the smaller challenger brands that try to tweak the big guy,” AdAge reported, adding that Bud Light is “by far” the largest U.S. beer brand, followed by Coors Light in second and Miller Lite in third.
Some observers are wondering if the ad would be effective.
Others thought the brewing fight was fitting.
And MillerCoors responded with a comparison of its own.
“At MillerCoors, we’re proud of our high-quality, great-tasting beers,” the company wrote on Twitter. “We’re also proud that none of our products include any high fructose corn syrup, while a number of Anheuser-Busch products do. And Miller Lite has fewer calories, fewer carbs and more taste than Bud Light.”