It's not right to fool mother nature, said the Miller Brewing Co. to its competitor Anheuser-Busch.
It's not right to fool the consumer, Anheuser-Busch said to Miller.
In the umpteenth round of an ongoing feud between the two brewers, the Miller Brewing Co. filed a request yesterday with the Federal Trade Commission asking that agency to take action against Busch for false, misleading and deceptive advertising.
In its filing, Miller quoted three expert nutritionists -- all used previously by the FTC in another investigation -- as saying that the "natural" campaign used by Busch to advertise and promote its main beers is "false and deceptive."
"It is inaccurate and plain deceptive to allow Anheuser-Busch to assert that its beer is natural," the filing quoted Dr. George Briggs, a leading professor of nutrition at the University of California, Berkeley.
The other two nutritionists asserted similarly that the use of the word "natural" by Busch is improper because its beer is processed and chemically modified and treated.
If beer was subject to a proposed FTC rule concerning when the word "natural" could be used on other types of food, Busch's beers would fail, Miller contended. Consequently, the FTC and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, which regulates advertising for beer instead of the FTC, should stop Busch from advertising its beers as "natural," Miller says.
"Malicious," "anticompetitive," "groundless," "unconstitutional," and "fantasy," are some of the words Busch used to describe Miller's allegations.
In a filing with the BATF several weeks ago, Busch addressed Miller's charges, which had already been filed with BATF.
"The attack of Miller upon Busch is in truth an assault upon the entire brewing industry," Busch contends.
The whole fight erupted when BATF asked for public comment on a proposal to change advertising regulations to allow comparative liquor, or beer, advertising.
Miller filed comments that largely attacked Busch on the "natural" issue. Busch countered by claiming that Miller was using the guise of the comment request to conduct its own form of comparative advertising and attack Busch without being charged with using improper comparative advertising. Busch pointed to the fact that Miller used press releases nationwide to further its claims.
In fact, Busch claims, Miller is merely trying to muddy the entire issue of comparative advertising because it fears comparison on the basis of ingredients -- which Busch claimed would embarrass Miller;
Miller does favor comparative advertising on the basis of price, caloric content, origin of beverage, container size and freshness dating.
Anheuser-Busch bottles under the brands, Budweiser, Natural Light, Busch and Michelob.
Miller, an operating company of Phillip-Morris Inc., produces Miller High Life, Lite and Lowenbrau.