National Advertising Review Board Recommends Molson Coors Discontinue “Light Beer Shouldn’t Taste Like Water” Claim in Two Advertisements

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.” 

All BBB National Programs case decision summaries can be found in the case decision library. For the full text of NAD, NARB, and CARU decisions, subscribe to the online archive.

 

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