Cold beer has the blood boiling from the City Council to the Bronx.
The Puerto Rican Day Parade is only weeks away, and once again, parade officials along with Coors Light are serving up controversy for the community
Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito is furious that the parade and MillerCoors would actually place a Puerto Rican flag on a Coors Light can and include a similar patriotic image as part of the campaign logo.
“My initial reaction is that this is unacceptable,” Mark-Viverito said.
“Anybody that sees that image, on that can of beer, the first thing they see is the Puerto Rican flag and that is supposed to be the greatest symbol of a nation, the greatest symbol of its people, a culture and its contributions and equating it with a can of beer really is deplorable,” Mark Viverito told PIX11 News.
Two years ago, I was the first to report on the disastrous “emboricuate” campaign. It was perceived by many Puerto Ricans as a play off the word “Boricua” (or Puerto Rican) and Spanish word “emborachar,” which means to get drunk. Company officials insist the campaign was about becoming more connected to Puerto Rican roots.
Puerto Ricans were not amused.
After our 2011 report, State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. of the South Bronx sent a to letter to the Coors family. The “emboricuate” campaign was pulled down throughout the city, and Diaz cited the PIX 11 report as the reason.
As for the senator’s take on the new controversy? Well, there is no mistaking what he sees.
“This is the Puerto Rican flag. This, this is the Puerto Rican flag,” Diaz said.
Some observers say there is a big difference between Budweiser putting an American flag on its cans and what Coors is doing with the Puerto Rican flag.
“We minorities from third countries, we feel different. We … don’t play around with our flag, don’t play around with our culture,” Diaz said.
PIX11 News visited the official Puerto Rican Day Parade offices on Third Avenue in the Bronx.
Once off the elevator doors, the parade offices were right there, their door wide open. After knocking and calling out for worker, I identified myself to a gentleman in an office as a PIX11 News reporter and informed him that my photographer and I would like to speak with parade officials.
He told me they were in a meeting and asked me to take a seat in the office.
We sat in the seats directed and for nearly 20 minutes heard a lively discussion focused on crisis communications. There was great concern that this latest controversy greatly hurts the Coors Light brand and they were trying to identify the best way for parade officials to get ahead of this before a boycott emerges.
All of this is to counter a rally that is taking place at this distributorship Thursday in the Bronx.
Once out of the meeting, stunned to see our cameras, parade officials scampered to an office. They weren’t expecting us.
Once the parade chairperson, Madelyn Lugo, emerged and realized we were told by one of their workers where to sit, she declined to answer any of our questions.