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Bud Light Gets Earful From Angry Corn Lobby After Super Bowl Ad

Rebecca Greenfield
Bud Light Gets Earful From Angry Corn Lobby After Super Bowl Ad

(Bloomberg) -- Bud Light’s Super Bowl campaign called out competitors that use corn syrup -- and the corn lobby is not happy about it.

In Anheuser-Busch InBev’s ads, a medieval crew delivers a cask of unwanted corn syrup to Miller Lite and Coors Light. The commercials noted that Bud Light is “brewed with no corn syrup.”

pic.twitter.com/x6tWqdSRXN

— Bud Light (@budlight) February 3, 2019

@BudLight America’s corn farmers are disappointed in you. Our office is right down the road! We would love to discuss with you the many benefits of corn! Thanks @MillerLight and @CoorsLite for supporting our industry. https://t.co/6fIWtRdeeM

— National Corn (NCGA) (@NationalCorn) February 4, 2019

Following the ads, the National Corn Growers Association tweeted at Bud Light that “America’s corn farmers are disappointed in you. Our office is right down the road! We would love to discuss with you the many benefits of corn! Thanks @MillerLight and @CoorsLite for supporting our industry.”

Farmer Kevin Ross posted a video of him pouring a can of beer down a sink, saying: “Bud Light, you’re not standing with corn farmers. We’re not standing with you.”

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Anheuser-Busch said it “fully supports” corn growers and will continue to invest in the industry. “Bud Light’s Super Bowl commercials are only meant to point out a key difference in Bud Light from some other light beers,” it said in a statement.

American consumption of high fructose corn syrup started to fall at the beginning of the millennium when it was linked to the country’s high rate of obesity. This was due in part to decreasing consumption of soda; soft-drink makers have also moved away from corn syrup, replacing it with sugar.

MillerCoors fired back at Bud Light on Twitter: “We’re proud of our high-quality, great-tasting beers. We’re also proud that none of our products include any high fructose corn syrup.” But Bud Light only called attention to the use of corn syrup rather than high fructose corn syrup, which has had some of its glucose converted into fructose.

The backlash continued on Monday, when the Iowa Corn Growers Association decried the ad. “This attack especially hits home at a time when farmers are hurting due to challenging economic conditions,” Chairman Mark Recker said in a statement. “Please leave us out of the beer wars.”

Much of the reaction on social media to the Bud Light ads suggests most people didn’t know beer contained corn syrup at all. Perhaps the corn lobby wanted to keep it that way.

(Updates with Iowa association’s comment in eighth paragraph.)

--With assistance from James Attwood and Isis Almeida.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Greenfield in New York at rgreenfield@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net, Jeff Sutherland

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