The advertising industry's self-regulatory unit—which makes sure advertisers don't run afoul of regulators—took the extreme step of referring MillerCoors' ad claims to the Federal Trade Commission.
The National Advertising Division of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council made the referral when the beer maker refused to participate in a review of certain ad claims made for the Coors Light beer can.
"It's particularly unusual for a major advertiser not to participate," said Linda Bean, an ASRC spokeswoman. Last year, only four of the 111 cases reviewed by NAD were referred to the FTC. The MillerCoors complaint, like other cases that make it to the commission, was brought by its competitor, Anheuser-Busch, which in 2010 was in turn challenged by MillerCoors for claims made about Select 55.
MillerCoors' ad claims for its new can appeared on the can itself and other product packaging, on social media, on media websites, the Coors Light website and in TV spots. Challenged claims included, "the world's most refreshing can," "beer on the inside, science on the outside" and "smoother, more refreshing pour," implying that the can was somehow technologically superior to other beer cans and provides a more refreshing beverage experience.
"This could change everything ... this technological masterpiece will revolutionize barbecues, beach parties and tailgates" touts a video on the Coors Light website.
According to NAD, MillerCoors declined to provide a substantive response to the challenge, which the beer maker called "frivolous." MillerCoors defended the claims as either puffery, (an unprovable claim that is generally interpreted as over-the-top) or truthful. The company also told NAD that the TV, radio and digital campaigns would be permanently discontinued by the end of September.
MillerCoors was not immediately available for comment.
NAD is an investigative unit of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council, administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.