Coors Light "Emboricuate" Ads Brews Outrage Among Puerto Ricans
The colorful ads can be seen on bus stops, phone booths and subways, dotting New York City streets and train stations, all as a prelude to the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
"Emborícuate," the signs from the Coors Light marketing read – or "Become Puerto Rican" in Spanish – are under images of three beer bottles. Another shows an image of a man, wearing a shirt emblazoned with the Puerto Rican flag, leading endless followers, who together form an image of the nation's colors.
The advertising campaign, in its third year, is drawing ire in the Puerto Rican community. The play on words, protestors online have argued, can be interpreted as "Emborráchate," or to get drunk.
"Last time we checked, Puerto Ricans do more than drink," read a line from an online protest petition, which 232 people have signed.
"We will refuse to purchase your products until you apologize to the Puerto Rican community in NYC and remove those ads," the letter reads.
On Facebook, more than 470 people have shared the link.
Julio Ricardo Varela, a social media influencer and found of Latinorebels.com, said the online buzz has shined a spotlight on the controversy that would have remained in the dark otherwise.
"It's not about getting 30,000 signatures," Varela said. "It's about finding the right niche...and making change happen.
"The controversy was generated by a tweet," he added. "It spread, other Puerto Rican activists got offended, and we started covering the story and created the petition."
In a statement, MillerCoors defended the marketing, saying it has a "strong track record of responsible advertising and marketing."
"We would never produce advertising that suggests, encourages or endorses over-consumption of our products," said spokeswoman Karina Diehl, manager of external communications. "'Emborícuate'...is used in our advertising to celebrate Puerto Rican culture at the Puerto Rican Day Parade, even if you are not Puerto Rican."
The statement added that it will be donating $75,000 in scholarships to the National Puerto Rican Day Parade Foundation.
The company’s response did little to quell the outrage among Boricuas, though.
Tato “Brujo” Torres, a Puerto Rico-based musician who has blasted Coors Light all week via Twitter, said he actually remembers the ads when he lived in New York three years ago.
It was “out of sight, out of mind” until a New York-based friend – a father of two young children who was offended by the ads – alerted him to the marketing again.
“I felt this huge anger and weight on my shoulders,” he said.
That’s when he took his rage to Twitter, and on his tweets got the attention of Varela. He’s been lambasting the company ever since.
“I like the term,” he said of ‘Emborícuate. “But it’s inherently connected to beer. That’s what bothers me.”
Torres said he has reached out New York politicians, but has received little response.
One of the few officials who has spoken out publicly against the ads is part of the Fortuño administration – a constant foe of New York activists and, in this case, an odd ally.
Kenneth McClintock, the island’s secretary of state, called the marketing campaign “una metida de pata profunda” – or a really bad case of sticking your foot in it, according to NotiCel.com.
“Though the company may have had the best intentions, when it comes to defending [the campaign], either through publicity or politically, it will lose out,” he added.
The National Puerto Rican Day, Inc. could not immediately provide a comment. The parade is June 12 in Manhattan.
Fox News Latino reporter Adrian Carrasquillo contributed to this article.
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