Drop Miller ads that disparage rival Bud

CBS, NBC

One of them shows Anheuser deliveryman wearing Capri pants

December 18, 2004|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

CBS will no longer air three Miller beer commercials and NBC decided to drop five, all on grounds they were unfair to rival Anheuser-Busch. One of the ads showed a Budweiser deliveryman wearing Capri pants.

In a letter to Miller Brewing Co. of Milwaukee, CBS said the three commercials were "unduly disparaging" and would be dropped Dec. 30.

NBC is dropping five Miller ads, NBC spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs said.

Miller has targeted Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.'s 50 percent market share in the United States with a series of ads promoting Miller Lite as having lower carbohydrates and being preferred by drinkers over Bud Light, the best-selling U.S. beer. Anheuser-Busch has been promoting Budweiser and Bud Light with a "fresh beer tastes better campaign" to fend off Miller.

In two of the ads that CBS has banned, beer drinkers stand outside a Budweiser brewery and speak through megaphones about how they preferred a Miller beer over an Anheuser-Busch one. The third ad shows a Budweiser delivery man in "men's Capri pants," which CBS deemed disparaging.

"We are sorry that Anheuser-Busch did not enjoy the Capri pants or `megaphone' spots as much as consumers did," Miller said in a statement.

CBS is the first of four TV networks to rule on Anheuser-Busch's Nov. 2 challenge to the Miller campaign. The St. Louis brewer also complained to ABC and Fox.

While Anheuser-Busch said in a statement that CBS' decision showed taste-test claims in the ads are "unsubstantiated," Miller replied in a statement that CBS had validated the taste test and its methods.

Anheuser-Busch asked the networks not to run any future spots that are based on the same study.

CBS said in its letter to Miller that it approved four ads over Anheuser-Busch's objections, finding them "adequately supported and not misleading."

The network passed no judgment on two more ads that Miller had no plans to air again. The letter said one ad Anheuser challenged has never been cleared for broadcast.

Fox spokesman Scott Grogin said Fox executives were unavailable for comment. ABC spokeswoman Julie Hoover didn't immediately return a call for comment.

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