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Bud's Super Bowl ad threatens to belittle Beer Alliance



A fight between America's two biggest brewers threatens a campaign called "Got Milk?" Designed to get brewing beer growers to regain drinkers who have taken wine and spirits by surprise.

But The Campaign May Be Over Now The water after Molson's US unit, MillerCoors, withdrew from a meeting scheduled for next month, saying the initiative was supposed to be a public spatula with the Bud Light maker AB InBev be stopped.

The rift began when AB InBev ran three Super Bowl TV channels Earlier this month, the ads highlighted the use of corn syrup by MillerCoors in Coors Light and Miller Lite. MillerCoors responded on Twitter with a full-page newspaper ad directed at "Beer Drinkers of America" ​​defending the use of corn syrup as part of the brewing process.

High fructose corn syrup used as sweetener has attracted negative attention for its role in the national obesity epidemic. MillerCoors points out that corn syrup, not high fructose corn syrup, is only used in fermentation for beer production, as is the case with some other AB InBev brands. MillerCoors says the corn syrup does not really get into the beer.

Pete Marino, head of communications at MillerCoors, called it "waste of time and money" to work on the campaign, "while the market-leading industry leader spends millions of dollars demonizing beer ingredients."

Beer has lost market share For two decades, after years of struggling, the breweries decided to agree to a rare rapprochement. The share of beer in the US alcohol market fell last year to 45.5% after 56% in 1

999. Spirits, however, had a share of 37.3% after 28.2%. The proportion of wine was 17.2% after 15.8%. Alcohol producers of all varieties are also struggling with a tendency among younger drinkers to drink less.

Mr. Marino said AB InBev's ads could damage the beer overall as many breweries use corn syrup to brew. "ABI's misguided attempt to gain a competitive edge threatens to slow down the health of our category for a long time," he said.

AB InBev highlights how Bud Light struggles and uses Miller Lite and Coors Light. Maissirup was about transparency and should not interfere with cooperation. "It's a fact that we thought consumers should know when they decide which beer to drink," a spokeswoman said.

Mainstream inventory brands like Bud Light, Miller Lite and Coors Light have suffered the most as consumers in the beer and beer industry are flawed, other tipples that trigger particularly fierce competition among their owners. For example, MillerCoors has been running ads for years that say Miller Lite has more taste than Bud Light.

Bud Light and Miller Lite volumes have dropped more than 25% over the past decade, while Coors Light has dropped 13%, according to Beer Marketer & Insights, a trade journal.

Beer has developed better in Europe, where breweries say industry-wide campaigns, including the British campaign "There's a Beer for That," have helped sell. However, executives say that the US, where the top 4 brewers dominate 75% of the market, makes collaboration more difficult.

"The tone of the competition was as unfriendly as I saw it in the Super Bowl campaign," said Heineken boss Jean -François van Boxmeer. "No wonder the beer category does not rise by itself."

At the beginning of last year, top executives of AB InBev, MillerCoors, Constellation, and Heineken teamed up for five hours at the Westin Hotel in Crystal City, Virginia to discuss the beer's problems and find a way to start growing.

A presentation showed photos of a glamorous woman drinking a glass of wine, Pierce Brosnan (like James Bond) a martini, and an older man in a vest drinking a beer while smoking in his kitchen. "Beer should thrive, but instead we lose," says the document.

The presentation recognized billions of revenue shortfalls as other drinks are perceived as more sophisticated, criticizing disorganized food shelves and the use of glasses bars to cheapen the image of beer.

Among the ideas to boost beer, drinkers were also finding the right beer for them, positioning beer as a reward at the end of a hard job, and convincing consumers that beer is social and demanding.

Other possible steps include a bartender-education program that highlights beer contribution to the US economy and marketing for younger drinkers, as evidenced by the documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal and the meetings present. Distributors have repeatedly met, to discuss how the challenges beer faces can be mastered by one participant. Executives met in San Diego in September to find out about five marketing agencies. They chose employment and were about to confirm the decision at a meeting in the offices of Constellation in Chicago next month, a person familiar with the effort.

MillerCoors strongly believes that it will not participate and raises questions about funding the project. Heineken spokesman said it was too early to comment on the future of the project, while Constellation did not respond.

A spokesman for AB InBev said it was still committed to "strengthening the beer segment," but also signaled that it would not return from its fight with MillerCoors to commit to "competing vigorously in the marketplace."

Write to Saabira Chaudhuri at saabira.chaudhuri@wsj.com


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