Coors Light unveils ‘smart’ tap handle powered by Bud Light negativity

Coors Light this month will debut the world’s first smart beer tap handle powered by Bud Light negativity.

Each time Bud Light talks about Coors Light on social or broadcast media, the tap handle illuminates, signaling that each legal-age patron will get a free Coors Light.

“When they bring hate, we will literally bring light,” says Ryan Reis, vice president of the Coors family of brands. “The more Bud Light talks, the more we refresh.”

The smart handles, which Reis unveiled today at a MillerCoors convention with distributors in Tampa, are slated to launch March 22 in select bars in five cities: New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Omaha and Las Vegas, timed to coincide with the start of the national college basketball tournament.

They will monitor Bud Light’s activity on social-and broadcast-media channels in real time. Whenever Bud Light attacks Coors Light, the smart beer tap handles light up.

A simplified version also will be available more broadly.

It represents Coors Light’s latest effort to celebrate beer in the wake of attacks from Bud Light, which prompted the battle with a series of ads targeting Coors Light and Miller Lite for using corn syrup as an ingredient. The Bud Light campaign, which debuted during the Super Bowl, has played heavily on television, social media, radio and on billboards around the country.

Coors Light responded by organizing Toast to Farmers, an event honoring American farmers who grow the ingredients that brewers use to make beer.

“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.”

Since the ads aired, Bud Light’s sales have deteriorated further. America’s top-selling beer was down 8.8 percent in the four-week period since the Super Bowl, plunging the brand farther into the red for 2019, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data through March 2.

And instead of winning over drinkers with its promises of “transparency,” the opposite appears to be happening: Since the new campaign launched, Bud Light's share losses have accelerated, Nielsen data show. 

Coors Light, meanwhile, has held share.