Bud Light’s Super Bowl surprise attack on Miller Lite and Coors Light was a bit of shock and awe. The offensive was launched during Q1 with a 60-second spot…then, two follow-up 15-second missiles in Q3 and Q4 hammered home the message that Bud Light is made with “barley, rice, water, hops and NO CORN SYRUP.” Watch the spots and read my initial analysis in this post.

If your business is ever on the receiving end of an attack from a competitor, it most likely won’t be as obvious as a Super Bowl commercial. You may see it in an advertisement, hear about it in the rumor mill, witness an exaggerated claim at a convention or in a social media post.

How will you respond? This set of parameters will help you in decision making:

1. Decide if a response from your business is necessary.

Will this issue have legs or is this a one-and-done scenario where your response will continue the conversation?

2. If you choose to respond, can you respond effectively and economically?

This is justification for building your social media channels now or having an updated email list or, at a minimum, the ability to communicate quickly with your paying customers through your Customer Relationship Management program (CRM).

3. If you respond, respond quickly and with force.

Time is critically important in these situations. Your message should not be confusing nor filled with a lot of corporate speak. At the same time, don’t make it personal_…as much as you may want to. Make it more about the customer or your product rather than the competition._

4. Get your customers to respond for you.

Nothing says loyalty more than when your customer stands up and takes on the competition.

The following are real-life examples of how these parameters played out in the current beer war:

The Counter Offensive Begins

Miller Lite and Coors Light decided on an immediate response.

Their social media channels are well built, so they could respond effectively and economically.

* Bud Light is the 800lb gorilla in this category

Miller Lite focused on product comparison.

Coors Light focused on the brewing process and standing by the American corn farmer.

Even the National Corn Grower’s Association responded.

They called out Bud Light and thanked Miller Lite and Coors Light for their support.

The Customers Get Involved

Iowa corn farmer Kevin Ross pours Bud Light down the drain.

Bud Light’s Response: Double Down + Corporate Speak

Impressively, Bud Light continued to push the No Corn Syrup message throughout multiple channels after the Super Bowl. However, they also released this statement:

“Last year, Anheuser-Busch purchased more than 1 billion pounds of corn ingredients. We fully support corn growers and will continue to invest in the corn industry. Bud Light’s Super Bowl commercials are only meant to point out a key difference in Bud Light from some other light beers. This effort is to provide consumers transparency and elevate the beer category.”

Sounds an awful lot like an apology to me.

Coors Light Introduces the Coors Light

Watch this explanation of the Coors Light Light:

Introducing The Coors Light: The world’s first smart beer tap that listens for Bud Light negativity and lights up when it finds it. And when the light is on, the next round of refreshing Coors Light is on us.

According to the Coors Light YouTube page, the Coors Light comes with these restrictions:

    Must be 21+. Wristbands required to redeem free beer and are available while supplies last. One wristband per person. Limit of up to 2 free Coors Light beers per person during promotion period of 3/22/2019-3/23/2019 during select college basketball games. Valid only during the time the Coors Light tap turns blue. See Coors Light rep at account for details and restrictions.

Final Thought for Business and Marketing Leaders

Choose wisely on whether or not to pick a fight with a competitor.

However, if a competitor picks a fight with you, follow the four decision making parameters listed above, and you could be toasting your way to new market share.

PS. My favorite brewery is neither Budweiser, Miller nor Coors. It’s Brink Brewery, located in College Hill, OH. If you ever happened to visit, try the Moozie Milk Stout or Father G’s Bees (a honey brown with honey provided by a local priest). Hold the Reins (English Mild Ale) is good for any mood you’re in or try the Duncan Clan Wee Heavy, a scotch ale.