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Beer Marketing

Bud Light defeated in ‘corn syrup’ PR war as judge orders packaging change

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By John Glenday, Reporter

September 5, 2019 | 3 min read

Bud Light has been defeated in its high-profile legal battle with MillerCoors over its use of the phrase ‘no corn syrup’ in its packaging.

corn syrup

Bud Light defeated in ‘corn syrup’ PR war as judge orders packaging change

A US judge has ordered beer owner Anheuser-Busch InBev to cease suggesting that its rivals use corn syrup in their finished products.

The definitive judgement follows a preliminary ruling in May which banned such suggestions in its AB InBev's advertising, a ruling which has now been extended to packaging. However, Bud Light is still permitted to use warehoused packs manufactured before 6 June until 2 March 2020.

Both brewers engaged in a high-profile bar brawl over the use of corn syrup in the fermentation process by Miller Lite and Coors Lite, but MillerCoors protested that no corn syrup ended up in its finished product.

Bud Light seized on the corn syrup angle as a wedge issue to distinguish itself from competitors, heavily advertising the fact that it used rice syrup, not corn syrup, in no less than three Super Bowl ads. Although, fellow AB InBev beer brands, Stella Artoise and Busch Light Beer do use corn syrup.

MillerCoors chief executive Gavin Hattersley commented: “Today’s ruling is another victory for MillerCoors, but more importantly it is another victory for the American public against deceptive advertising like Bud Light’s. Bud Light’s campaign was bad for the public, bad for the industry and against the law. With this ruling, we are holding Bud Light accountable for their actions, and we will keep holding their feet to the fire every time they intentionally mislead the American public.”

An unrepentant AB InBev put a brave face on the decision in a statement, saying: “Bud Light is brewed with no corn syrup–plain and simple. We look forward to defending our right to inform beer drinkers of this fact at trial and on appeal.”

The issue still hasn’t been put to bed however with a larger trial still pending between the two unless a settlement can be reached.

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