MillerCoors launched a “Know Your Beer” campaign that included digital vignettes featuring beer customers who were asked to taste two unnamed beers (Miller Light vs. Bud Light), determine which beer had “more taste,” and select their choice. When the identities of the two beers were revealed, the vast majority of participating consumers expressed surprise at having chosen Miller Lite over Bud Light.
MillerCoors then advanced three express claims:
- “7 out of 10” agree that Miller Lite has “more taste” than Bud Light;
- A “majority agree” that Miller Light has “more taste” than Bud Light; and
- “More taste than Michelob Ultra [And Only One More Calorie].”
Anheuser-Busch objected to MillerCoors’ “more taste” claims, arguing to the National Advertising Division (“NAD”) that the ads conveyed unsupported messages that (1) Miller Lite tastes better than Bud Light and (2) beer drinkers chose Miller Light over Bud Light through properly designed and conducted taste tests. MillerCoors explained the claims resulted from a comprehensive 2018 taste test conducted by the Institute for Perception and characterized the study as part of a fun, promotional campaign not a scientific taste test. Nevertheless, it voluntarily discontinued all claims containing numeral statements based upon the “Know Your Beer” data.
The NAD concluded that MillerCoors’ taste test provided a reasonable basis for the “more taste” claims. MillerCoors’ testing revealed that consumers found Miller Light had “more taste” over Bud Light 65% of the time and over Michelob Ultra 70% of the time. However, the NAD recommended that MillerCoors discontinue certain digital vignettes or modify them to remove statements suggesting that consumers participated in a true taste test and made a choice based upon a taste preference. The NAD concluded that the consumers’ statements, when presented as the conclusion of a taste test based upon specific attributes, conveyed a message of preference. As a result, the NAD deemed the data collected during the taste tests not reliable to support the overall preference message conveyed by the “Know Your Beer” vignettes and videos.
MillerCoors agreed to comply with the NAD’s decision and expressed satisfaction with the NAD’s finding that MillerCoors’ “more taste” claim was appropriately substantiated.