When life gives you insults, give out free beer. MillerCoors has introduced a smart tap handle that monitors social and broadcast media channels in real-time. Whenever AB InBev’s Bud Light takes a stab at Coors Light, the tap lights up and every patron in the bar will get a free drink—of Coors Light, of course.
Ryan Reis, vice president of the Coors family of brands, presented the smart tap handles to distributors on Tuesday as a way to turn negative press into bar patron engagement. They will launch on March 23 to coincide with NCAA March Madness in select bars across New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Omaha and Texas. A simplified version will be installed in a broader market.
Bud Light debuted an ad during Super Bowl LIII called “Special Delivery” that called out Coors Light and Miller Light for using corn syrup. The theme continued during the Academy Awards with a commercial that showed a dramatic reading of beer ingredients.
“Bud Light has been attacking us out of frustration and criticizing our ingredients for weeks now,” Reis said in a blog post. “We know drinkers don’t want to hear it. They want to move on. And according to a survey we conducted last week, 80 percent of premium light drinkers said they just want to enjoy a refreshing beer without being subjected to a debate about ingredients. So we’re giving it to them.”
Reis cited recent data by Nielsen showing that Bud Light sales have dropped 8.8 percent since its Super Bowl ad aired in February. Coors Light, he points out, has held share.
Ironically, a number of Anheiser-Busch products use corn syrup, Reis pointed out, adding that it’s used by many brewers. As MillerCoors explained in a blog post, yeast eats these simple sugars during the fermentation process and converts them to alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Coors Light also responded to the jabs by organizing Toast to Farmers, an event honoring American farmers who grow beer ingredients.
“When they bring hate, we will literally bring light,” says Reis. “The more Bud Light talks, the more we refresh.”
MillerCoors has utilized emerging technology in campaigns before, such as a 360-degree VR experience. Three videos put the consumer in a first-person view of whitewater kayaking in Queensland, downhill biking in Cairns and big wave surfing in Tasmania. Each experience ends with twenty-something adventurers cracking open a cold can of Coors Light.