MillerCoors is in some deep trouble with the Puerto Rican community after a recent controversy about the misuse of their flag.
The image, which looks to be the Puerto Rican flag over an apple, appears under Spanish text designating Coors Light as the official beer of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
MillerCoors, which has been criticized for its Puerto Rican Day Parade marketing in years past, is now under fire for an image on its Coors Light beer cans which combines the Puerto Rican flag and the Big Apple, ahead of the parade of which they are part sponsor of.
This caused a lot of controversy within the Puerto Rican community. One man named Efrain Nieves took his outrage to Twitter and tweeted: “The flag of my motherland does not belong on a beer can!”
An East Harlem City Councilor said that Coors Light official Puerto Rican Day Parade beer is “Disrespectful.”
The National Institute for Latino Policy said that associating the Puerto Rican flag with Coors Light is “egregious.” According to the National Institute of Health, Puerto Ricans struggle with high rates of alcoholism.
Puerto Ricans consume more alcoholic beverages per week than any other Hispanic group, with 16.9, according to data published by the institute’s website in 2011, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
There was an immediate backlash from the Puerto Rican community and plenty of groups demanding that MillerCoors to stop using the Puerto Rican flag on their cans.
According to Latino Rebels, a group called Boricuas for a Positive Image, a grassroots New York City community group, formally asked for MillerCoors to stop distribution of special Coors Light beer cans with the Puerto Rican flag on them.
Marketed as the official beer of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, BFPI issued a press statement and wrote to the head of the beer distribution company selling the cans.
The statement says that a “large number of Puerto Rican organizations, elected officials, activists and neighborhood groups that Coors, Inc. cease distributing a promotional beer can with the symbol of the Puerto Rican flag. We believe Coors has insulted the Puerto Rican community by using this promotion before the parade.”
According to the statement, the coalition planned “protests and demonstrations if Coors fails to agree with their demands. It has also expressed great disappointment with the marketing agent of the parade, whom they say has shown more interest in profit than in portraying a positive image.”
Response from MillerCoors
After much scrutiny over social media and public outcry both MillerCoors and The National Puerto Rican Day Parade have issued statements concerning the controversy
In a statement to NBC Latino, MillerCoors says it has a strong track-record of responsible advertising and marketing.
“Coors Light has supported the National Puerto Rican Day Parade for the last seven years in celebration and honor of Puerto Rican heritage,” the statement read in part. “We’ve included a variation of the official National Puerto Rican Day Parade logo on our packaging, which incorporates an apple to symbolize New York, a star and red and blue colors as a demonstration of our official alliance and support of the organization. As part of our partnership over the years we’ve contributed to the Parade’s Diversity Scholarship Fund which has helped dozens of students manage the financial burdens of attaining a higher education.”
The National Puerto Rican Day Parade (NPRDP) was more forceful in admonishing critics of the image.
“The mark in the promotion of Coors Light is NOT the Puerto Rican flag, NOR the logo of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc,” wrote spokesperson Javier Gomez in a statement. “It is an artwork created exclusively by Coors Light for this campaign, that integrates elements for the Parade’s symbol such as an apple, a star and red, white, blue and black colors. We call on community leaders to clear this misunderstanding, and stop misguidedly telling the public that the Puerto Rican flag has been posted on beer cans, something that the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc. would NEVER authorize.”
The National Puerto Rican Day Parade is June 9 in Manhattan.