New York, NY – April 11, 2023 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate body of BBB National Programs, recommended that Molson Coors Beverage Company discontinue the claim that “light beer shouldn’t taste like water. It should taste like beer” in the context of two challenged advertisements promoting Miller Lite.
The advertising at issue, which appeared in two 15-second advertisements, had been challenged by Anheuser-Busch Companies, LLC. Following NAD’s decision (Case No. 7183), Molson Coors appealed NAD’s recommendation that it discontinue the claim that “light beer shouldn’t taste like water. It should taste like beer.”
In agreement with NAD, the NARB panel concluded that in the context in which the claim is used in the challenged ads, the ad slogan is not puffery but is a comparative claim requiring substantiation in the form of a well-conducted consumer taste test.
Further, the NARB panel found that Molson Coors did not provide substantiation for the claim, nor did it provide any consumer research regarding its argument that reasonable consumers would not take away a comparative claim. The NARB panel concluded that, in context, the compare-and-contrast visuals and voiceover placement of the slogan at issue likely communicates a comparative claim to at least a significant minority of reasonable consumers.
The NARB panel recommended that Molson Coors discontinue the claim that “light beer shouldn’t taste like water. It should taste like beer” in the context of two challenged advertisements, but noted that nothing in its decision precludes the advertiser from making claims relating to consumers’ taste preference or other claims pertaining to the taste qualities of its beer or competing beers as long as they are properly substantiated.
Molson Coors stated that it “supports the NAD and NARB self-regulatory process and will comply with the recommendation of the NARB,” although it “continues to disagree that the phrase ‘light beer shouldn’t taste like water. It should taste like beer’ is anything but puffery, even in this context.”
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs, a non-profit organization, is the home of U.S. independent industry self-regulation, currently operating more than a dozen globally recognized programs that have been helping enhance consumer trust in business for more than 50 years. These programs provide third-party accountability and dispute resolution services that address existing and emerging industry issues, create a fairer playing field for businesses, and a better experience for consumers. BBB National Programs continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-and-teen-directed marketing, data privacy, dispute resolution, automobile warranty, technology, and emerging areas. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Review Board (NARB): The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) is the appellate body for BBB National Programs’ advertising self-regulatory programs. NARB’s panel members include 85 distinguished volunteer professionals from the national advertising industry, agencies, and public members, such as academics and former members of the public sector. NARB serves as a layer of independent industry peer review that helps engender trust and compliance in NAD, CARU, and DSSRC matters.