Molson Coors’ advertising slogan “light beer shouldn’t taste like water” has launched the brand in some hot water of its own.

The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs, a regulatory group that oversees U.S. advertising, stated that Molson Coors should stop equating competitors’ light beer to water. The advertising claim was challenged in an expedited claim process by Anheuser-Busch, according to a Feb. 23 press release.

Molson Coors does not reference any specific brand of light beer in its advertising.

The NAD says the comparison contains a “measurable attribute” of the taste of light beer, yet doesn’t include any evidence to back up this claim about the taste. NAD concluded that the company should cease using this statement in ads.

However, the beer company claims the slogan represents nothing more than “an opinion.” Molson Coors is now appealing the regulator’s claim, stating that its cheeky advertising tactic didn’t cross any legal boundaries.

“In 2022, we released commercials for Miller Lite stating, ‘Light beer shouldn’t taste like water. It should taste like beer.’ Following a complaint from Anheuser-Busch, the National Advertising Division asked us not to publicly state the opinion that light beer shouldn’t taste like water,” Molson Coors chief communications officer Adam Collins shares in an official statement. “We vehemently disagree with this decision because we believe light beer should taste like beer, not water, and we are well within our right to share that belief.  We have appealed the NAD’s decision and will proudly continue to make light beer that tastes like beer.”

Molson Coors says it “disagrees with the decision and recommendation of the National Advertising Division and will appeal the decision to the National Advertising Review Board” and “the ads do not expressly identify Michelob Ultra or any other light beers,” according to the NAD press release. Coors argues that the decision interferes with the brand’s right to share its opinion in advertising, per the release.

Anheuser-Busch also addressed the NAD decision in an official statement:

“Anheuser-Busch appreciates NAD’s thoughtful review and conclusion regarding Miller Lite’s baseless advertising claims about light beer. True stewards of the beer industry should be working together to strengthen the beer category instead of resorting to misleading attacks that denigrate products enjoyed by millions of beer drinkers.”

Coors’ appeal was filed to BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Review Board (NARB), where it will be reviewed by an appellate committee.

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