The corn controversy continues, and now it’s getting personal, with Bud Light personally calling out its rival’s top communications executive on social media.
Bud Light posted a tweet on Wednesday afternoon mocking Pete Marino, MillerCoors' chief public affairs and communications officer, after he called Bud Light out for using corn syrup in its Bud Light Orange and Bud Light Lime brands.
Bud Light referred to Marino as "ye old CCO of MillerCoors" in its tweet, argued with him, and told him to stop "stalking" Bud Light.
Apparently "ye old" CCO of @MillerCoors thinks he knows everything about our beers but *shocking* he doesn't. Bud Light Lime and Orange aren't brewed with corn syrup. Now please stop stalking us. https://t.co/MrabfnXB3n— Bud Light (@budlight) February 6, 2019
One comms pro, Patrick Hillman, saw the exchange and called Bud Light "desperate" in a tweet, noting that the brand is going to "wear this crisis around its neck for a long time."
Wow. @budlight felt the need to step out of their brand voice to respond directly to MillerCoors' CCO. This definitely has the stench of desperation that leads me to believe @AnheuserBusch is going to wear this #crisis around its neck for a long time. @adage @PRWeekUS https://t.co/aUVT7bX8WR— Patrick Hillmann (@PRHillmann) February 7, 2019
"On one hand, it’s surprising that they continue to respond to us and think about us so much given their position as the largest brand in the category," Marino told PRWeek via email, when asked about Bud Light's tweet. "On the other hand, they have done us a favor as it has rallied our system in a very galvanizing fashion."
He added that Bud Light launched the campaign in an attempt to stop the "significant decline" in volume it has been experiencing.
Marino also called the #corntroversy "much ado about nothing." He said Anheuser-Busch InBev is trying to make an issue out of brewing with corn versus brewing with rice, both of which are consumed during fermentation and aren’t found in the finished product.
"They are trying to intentionally mislead consumers that corn syrup is high fructose corn syrup, and they are very different products," said Marino. "We don’t use any high fructose corn syrup in our products, though interestingly AB uses it in several of theirs."
The battle kicked off Sunday, when Bud Light aired a commercial during Super Bowl LIII slamming rivals Miller Lite and Coors Light for including corn syrup in their beers’ ingredients.
On Tuesday, MillerCoors took out a full-page ad in The New York Times to defend itself following Bud Light’s spot.
A day later, Bud Light used Twitter to throw shade specifically about corn syrup, implying it was a cheap ingredient used as filler to save money.
A message from the King re: Corn Syrup. pic.twitter.com/IukZ0JZPZ3— Bud Light (@budlight) February 6, 2019
MillerCoors and the National Corn Growers Association have been bonding over the corn conversation all week. The corn farmers’ association hosted Pete Coors, chairman and chief customer relations officer of the Molson Coors Brewing Company, at its convention in Denver, Colorado, on Tuesday.