Coors Light is taking its quarrel with Bud Light into cheeky product development with the introduction of a "smart tap" that lights up—and dispenses free beers—whenever it detects at attack from Bud Light on TV or in social media.
"When they bring hate, we will literally bring light," Ryan Reis, vice president of the Coors family of brands, said in a statement. "The more Bud Light talks, the more we refresh."
Check out the tap below. It was unveiled Wednesday at a MillerCoors convention with distributors in Tampa. The smart taps are slated to be installed March 22 at select bars in five cities—New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Omaha and Las Vegas—timed to the start of March Madness.
Exactly how the tech works is unclear, but the Coors Light will be monitoring Bud Light's activity on TV and in social media—and the tap will light up whenever Bud Light says anything negative about Coors Light. Bud Light's recent attacks on Coors Light (and Miller Lite) began on the Super Bowl over its rivals' use of corn syrup.
"Bud Light has been attacking us out of frustration and criticizing our ingredients for weeks now," Reis says. "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."
Ironically, the creative activation from Coors Light is the kind of fun in-bar stunt that Bud Light itself implemented, to great success, with last year's Bud Light Victory Fridges in Cleveland—padlocked cases of beer that unlocked only when the Browns won a game, after going 0-16 the previous season. Critics, on the other hand, will call the Coors Light stunt petty—and just as negative as what Bud Light has been doing.
Coors Light's smart taps come just a few days after Bob Lachky, a former top marketer at Anheuser-Busch, criticized Bud Light's decision to attack its rivals over ingredients. "It's a commodity industry and the last thing you need to be doing is further commoditizing it with discussions about ingredients that nobody cares about," he told AdAge. "It's just real disappointing. It's a total miss."
Bud Light's sales were down 8.8 percent in the four weeks following the Super Bowl, while Coors Light's remained steady, MillerCoors said in a corporate blog post, citing Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data.