CBS to Pull 3 Miller Ads After A-B Protest

CHICAGO CBS has agreed to stop airing three Miller Brewing TV spots following a protest from Anheuser-Busch that the work is based on improperly conducted taste tests, officials said.

A-B in November filed a protest with the four major TV networks over 11 Miller commercials. A-B argued that Miller’s taste test was improperly conducted in part because people were asked which beer had “more flavor” or “more taste” rather than simply which beer’s taste they preferred. Yet the spots, A-B said, leave viewers to infer that Miller’s brands were favored over A-B’s.

CBS agreed to pull three spots after concluding that they were “unduly disparaging of Budweiser and Bud Light,” and that two of the spots “convey an unsubstantiated preference claim,” A-B said.

A network representative said in a statement: “CBS upheld AB’s challenge with respect to three Miller commercials. Other Miller advertising challenged by A-B was found to be substantiated and remains acceptable for broadcast” on CBS.

Two of the TV spots CBS pulled were created by Interpublic Group’s The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., and launched in October. They show a line of people outside A-B headquarters. Individuals use a megaphone to explain that, while formerly loyal to A-B products, they have switched to Miller Lite or Miller Genuine Draft because a taste test showed them to have more flavor or more taste.

The third spot pulled by CBS, from WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather in New York, shows a slovenly dressed A-B deliveryman making inept attempts to hit on the girls tending bar. He is wearing what Miller describes as Capri pants.

CBS will continue to run spots in Ogilvy’s “Referee” series. Because of that, Miller responded by saying “the network had validated [Miller’s] basic competitive proposition.”

In a statement, Miller evp, marketing Bob Mikulay said: “We are sorry Anhesuer-Busch did not enjoy the ‘Capri Pants’ or ‘Megaphone’ spots as much as consumers did.”

A-B said it has not yet heard from the other networks.

“We will compete with anybody in this industry if they compete truthfully,” said Michael Owens, A-B’s vp of sales and marketing. “This isn’t a matter of hurting sales or not hurting our sales, it’s just not right.”