Beer brawl

Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing have never been friendly, but A-B has been so dominant for so long there wasn’t much bite to their battle for many years.

That’s all changed with Miller’s newfound energy under SABMiller ownership; it’s been tweaking its larger rival in advertising for the past year.  The brewers have since come to life like the bleary-eyed drunk at the end of the bar who suddenly becomes animated with a growled, "What are YOU looking at?" But what we won’t be looking at anytime soon, on at least one network, are some new spots from A-B including one in its "Referee" campaign from independent Cannonball in St. Louis. The standards and practices unit at ABC and ESPN, which did not return calls, deemed the spots unfit for air. A-B said the other networks have approved the spots, and downplayed the situation because the work wasn’t yet slotted for rotation anyway.

ABC’s move was made without any input from Miller Brewing, which has had several spots in its own "Referee" series from Ogilvy & Mather pulled by the networks after protests from A-B over their purported unfairness (a frame from the campaign is pictured above). And so brewing’s Bickersons battle on, fighting amongst themselves even as they look for ways to reel back young people whose heads have been turned by trendier cocktails. As a beer baron named Homer Simpson once declared, "To alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems."

—Posted by Trevor Jensen