MillerCoors Launches 'Smart' Beer Tap to Tweak Bud Light
Amid its ongoing feud with Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light, MillerCoors is promoting a "smart" beer tap.
The technology-driven marketing gimmick is part of MillerCoors' response to the recent Bud Light ad campaign criticizing the ingredients used to make Miller Lite and Coors Light — specifically, corn syrup.
Dubbed “The Coors Light," the tap is “powered by Bud Light negativity,” and uses technology to monitor the rival brand's activity on social- and broadcast-media channels in real time, according to MillerCoors. Whenever Bud Light virtually attacks Coors Light, the tap handle lights up, indicating that everyone in the participating bar gets a free round of Coors.
The unique tap was installed in five participating bars across the U.S. to coincide with the start of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament in late March.
"Bud Light has been attacking us out of frustration for weeks now," said Ryan Reis, vice president of brand marketing for Coors, in a recent media release. "We believe people just want to move on. So we invented this smart beer tap that does the listening for them – and even better, turns Bud Light's negativity into rounds of Coors Light on us."
The tap debuted at bars in New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Omaha and Las Vegas on March 22-23, the tournament's first weekend. “When they bring hate, we will literally bring light,” Reis said in a MillerCoors "Behind the Beer" blog post. “The more Bud Light talks, the more we refresh.”
The brand is staging a similar promotion at other “key accounts” across the U.S., offering a free round whenever one of the negative Bud Light ads plays on the on-premise TVs as a way to “further connect with drinkers,” according to the release.
The controversy between the brands followed Bud Light's Super Bowl LIII commercial, which knocked the use of corn syrup during the brewing process for Miller Lite and Coors Light as part of a broader campaign pushing for ingredient transparency in the category (see the ad below).
Since then, a wave of retaliatory marketing activity from both manufacturers has included TV spots, social media activity, media marketing and now the smart tap. MillerCoors also launched a series of multi-channel “competitive” ads that reimagines Bud Light’s Super Bowl spot with its own “director’s cut.”
The marketing battle has also turned into a legal battle. MillerCoors sued AB InBev last week, alleging that Bud Light’s Super Bowl ad and related creative make false and misleading claims, as well as misuse the Miller and Coors trademarks.