As Everyone Else Moves On, Miller Lite and Bud Light Keep Bickering in Their Ads

March Madness brings out a new round of Super Bowl follow-ups

Miller Lite's new ads revive the Bud Knight to drink a competitor brew, and Bud Light was ready with a retort. Miller Lite, Bud Light
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Miller Lite has taken another swing at Bud Light over the category leader’s Super Bowl ads. And if you’re thinking, “Wait, wasn’t the Super Bowl well nigh on two months ago?”, then you would be absolutely correct.

The brands have been tussling in the marketing schoolyard since Bud Light dedicated most of its ad messaging at this year’s Super Bowl to the allegation that its competitors use corn syrup, while Bud Light does not. The ads followed Bud Light’s recent announcement it would become the first major beer to include ingredient and nutritional labeling on its packaging (unlike with food, such labeling is not required by government regulation for alcohol products).

Firing back in a full-page newspaper ad, Miller Lite accused Bud Light of misleading consumers by implying the brand uses high-fructose corn syrup, which it does not.  And Miller defended the practice as “a normal part of the brewing process and does not even end up in your great-tasting can of Miller Lite.”

While some public brand rivalries get fans fired up about taking sides, this one didn’t exactly feel like a rallying cry for either popular competitor. And with new ads rolling out this week for the NCAA Tournament, consumer apathy on the fermentation fracas seems like it could hit an all-time meh.

Miller Lite’s new ads from agency DDB show  characters from Bud Light’s Dilly Dilly campaign drinking cans of (GASP) Miller Lite during their filming breaks. Interestingly, one spot mocks Bud Light’s cobranded ad with HBO’s Game of Thrones, in which the Bud Knight was shockingly murdered by Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane.

Bud Light, via agency partner Wieden + Kennedy New York, was ready with a (generically phrased) rebuttal featuring the ruler of Dilly Dilly’s fantasy kingdom:

“In the real world, people want to know what’s in their beer,” says Andy Goeler, vp of marketing for Bud Light. “We hope MillerCoors is also planning to imitate us by adding ingredient labels to their packaging. It’s good for the consumer and the right thing for the beer industry too.”

Social commentary from ad viewers doesn’t seem to show tremendous traction on the issues both brands are trying to force into the consumer conversation.

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."