Beer wars? A-B defends its Clydesdales, Dalmation

The Associated Press asks if the beer wars are back.

It appears that Anheuser-Busch might have been inclined not to respond to the latest advertisements from Miller Brewing about Miller Lite having more taste than Bud Light, but when Miller insulted A-B’s dog that was too much.

Milwaukee-based Miller’s new ad for Miller Lite, unveiled nationwide during football games and NASCAR events, features a Dalmatian on a wagon led by Clydesdales — the iconic horses synonymous with Anheuser-Busch, maker of top-selling Bud Light. In the distance, a Miller Lite truck appears, proclaiming “Miller Lite. Half the carbs of Bud Light” on the back. At a stop, the dog jumps into the Miller truck and rides away.

St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch responded with a full-page ad in USA Today on Tuesday, complete with a picture of a Dalmatian, telling Miller to “keep up the bad work.”

“Apparently, Miller Beer believes they have to say negative things about our brands to sell their beer,” the ad said. “At Budweiser, we’re positive there’s a better way of doing things.”

The ad said Anheuser-Busch will make a donation to animal rescue groups across the U.S. in response to Miller’s ad.

New advertisements from Miller come at a time that the company is preparing to merge its U.S. operations with Molson Coors. It has been suggested that A-B, the nation’s largest brewing company, might have a competitive advantage if the second and third largest focus more on merging than competing with A-B.

Miller President and CEO Tom Long said in a note to distributors Tuesday that the company will air the ad this weekend during football games on several networks. It also will be posted on YouTube.

“The ‘able challenger’ is alive and well, and if A-B thought the Miller system would lose its competitive edge in the months to come, they don’t know us — or you — very well,” Long wrote.