From the editor

In bad taste

January 27, 2010
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Miller Lite redesigned its packaging last spring with new labels promoting a "taste protector cap" on its bottles and a "taste protector lid" on its cans. The lids and caps themselves were turned out in a new golden hue. This PDF from MillerCoors' quarterly divisional seminar last summer touts the insight behind the marketing effort - that the number one consumer complaint is "metal can" taste - and describes the "Taste Protection" cans and bottles as having a "special gold coating to protect the beer from metal taste and oxygen."

It turns out, though, that the "special" barrier Miller had been promoting through its packaging and a significant ad campaign was nothing more than the existing liners inside the cans and caps. This week, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus  came out with a request that MillerCoors modify its "taste protector" claims because they were "puffery" and gave the misleading impression that there was packaging innovation at play. To make matters worse, MillerCoors conceded that it had "made no changes to its bottle cap or lid that could be thought to constitute a technological advance."

Of course, there's nothing wrong with promoting an existing product or packaging attribute. But there's something, well, icky about the way Miller executed this effort. In an era where consumer skepticism is at a peak and transparency has become a buzzword, the brand's misleading statements about the packaging attributes (and its use of the words "new" and "special" to market them) will do nothing more than leave a bad taste in consumers' mouths. Though, surely, not that "metal can" taste.

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