Anheuser-Busch caused quite a farm controversy with its Bud Light Super Bowl commercials. Remember, Bud Light bragged in those commercials that it doesn’t use corn syrup for its light beer, unlike Miller Lite and Coors Lite. Its no-corn-syrup policy was literally the theme of Bud Light’s entire Super Bowl sponsorship.
Turns out farmers weren’t amused by this, especially because the whole claim was extremely misleading (there’s no corn syrup left after fermentation anyway). The reaction on social media was immediate and angry.
Anheuser-Busch apparently noticed. In PR moves that are almost comical at this point, A-B started promoting the fact that its other products still use corn and corn syrup. It also piggybacked on the responses of Miller Lite and Coors Litle to salute farmers.
I also started to see these advertisements pop up on various websites while I browsed at work:
Okay, so it seems like A-B wants to play nice now; right? Like, hey, maybe they learned the lesson: denigrating such a staple product coming off our farms isn’t the way to make friends and influence people. Maybe we can find a marketing campaign that sells our product without running all over America’s farmers. Fabulous!
Except, not so fast. Bud Light’s corn-syrup commercials are still playing during other sporting events. And Bud Light’s corn-syrup campaign is expanding so you might start seeing billboards with the same messaging.
It’s a little like having your cake and eating it too: “We use corn products and really, really love American farmers! Just please don’t look at what we’re doing over here with our other products!”
This is what makes me so sick. These companies absolutely don’t get it. Yes, you buy our products. Why? Because they’re cheap and abundant and you kinda have to. Great. I appreciate that Coors Lite celebrated farmers and made lemonade out of a bad situation. But farmers don’t need anyone to kiss our behinds, fight about who loves us more, or host parties at the bar. By all means keep doing it, but that’s not why we were so upset about the corn-syrup commercials!
Farmers were upset because we’re sick of being the scapegoat. We’re sick and tired of our products being vilified, especially in misleading and dishonest ways. American agriculture is producing an amazing food supply. So stop stomping all over it to get ahead of your competitors!
Whatever societal ill you want to claim your product is going to fix, just leave us out of it! The problem doesn’t come from our corn, pesticides, GMOs, gluten, seeds, soil or whatever else. We’re not your punching bag. And that’s what we want to stop.
So as A-B continues to dance around the issue, they’re not making it any better. Farmers aren’t falling for the two-faced commercial campaigns. And targeting us with pretty ads about us isn’t going to make us happy.
Cut the corn-syrup commercials or nothing changes.
Dennis Laughton says
I would suggest that they were sold a specific approach by their ad agency. Yes, A-B bought it but companies usually rely on the agency to get it right. I have sat in on those type of meetings and the agency reply is that they understand the market, leave it to the pros. Well the pros goofed big time in this instance. That’s how I see it.