Modist Brewing, Bud Light, 'Dilly Dilly,' and a Cease & Desist Letter

Modist Brewing, Bud Light, 'Dilly Dilly,' and a Cease & Desist Letter
Image of 'Dilly Dilly' Mosaic Double IPA logo Modist Brewing Co.

At noon on December 1, 2017, Minneapolis craft brewer Modist Brewing Co. officially launched its latest offering, a limited-release Mosaic Double IPA titled 'Dilly Dilly' in its North Loop taproom. A little more than two hours later, a representative of Anheuser-Busch's InBev, the company that produces and distributes Bud Light, walked through their doors to present one of the most unique cease & desist letters in recent memory.

Earlier that year, the nonsensical term 'dilly dilly' had entered the national vocabulary thanks to a series of advertisements by InBev promoting their Bud Light beer. The ads, set in medieval times, featured a host of characters exclaiming 'dilly dilly' whenever referencing Bud Light. Those that uttered the words, usually the king, used them as a toast, a greeting, a rallying cry, and more.

Soon the phrase was everywhere — it had gone viral.

On November 28, Modist Brewing took to social media to announce the December 1 release of their new beer. Named 'Dilly Dilly,' it was both a callback to the famous Bud Light ads and a light-hearted jab at "big beer." Consumers would be hard-pressed to confuse the taste of the company's double IPA with a Bud Light.

Modist had checked a database of trademarked beer names in the lead-up to that moment to make sure they weren't infringing on another company's intellectual property. Not seeing the name taken, they went forward with their release. When they realized that InBev had the phrase 'dilly dilly' trademarked as a slogan, they readied for the likely cease & desist letter.

The letter came, but not in a way anyone at Modist would have imagined.

At 2:15 PM, two hours and fifteen minutes after the release of their 'Dilly Dilly' IPA, a man dressed as a medieval town crier walked into the Modist taproom, announced himself to the room full of curious onlookers, and unrolled a large scroll to read a message from InBev.

It read (in part):

"Hear ye, hear ye—dear friend of the crown, Modist (mispronounced as Mode-ist) Brewing Company. Congratulations on the launch of your new brew, Dilly Dilly Mosaic Double IPA. Let it be known, any beer that is shared between friends is a fine beer indeed. And we are duly flattered by your loyal tribute.

However, 'Dilly Dilly' is the motto of our realm, so we humbly ask you keep this to a limited edition, one-time-only run. This is by order of the king. Disobedience will be met with additional scrolls, then a final warning, then a private tour of the Pit of Misery."

The town crier then noted that Bud Light would be in the "fair citadel of Minneapolis" for the 2018 Super Bowl — a game played in the U.S. Bank Stadium — and presented Modist with two tickets to the game "to watch the festivities and enjoy a few Bud Lights."

'Dilly Dilly' was always planned as a limited-run, one-time release, and Modist Brewing had no issue complying with the request to cease & desist. Jokingly, company representatives said they would be re-releasing the beer under the name Coat Tails — but instead moved on to other beer styles the company was "eager to try." According to Modist co-founder Eric Paredes, "Dilly Dilly Mosaic Double IPA will henceforth live in the archives of the internet."

The scroll from InBev was hung on a wall in their taproom.

In January 2018, Modist announced — via its stuffed pet raven Harry — that, at the request of its twenty-five employees, it was raffling the tickets off. Two lucky winners would go to the Super Bowl, and twenty-five charities would equally share one-hundred percent of the proceeds.

Each raffle entry was $25, with a limit of two entries per person. Modist limited the raffle to 2,000 entries. A drawing to determine the ticket winners was held on Saturday, February 3, 2018, at 9 PM CST.

On March 9, 2018, the Modist Brewing Company announced on Facebook that it had mailed out "25 heartfelt letters and 25 checks addressed to 25 of our employees' favorite charities." Proceeds from the company's four-day Super Bowl raffle totaled $34,000, and each of the worthy charities received a check for $1300.


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