Community activists in New York are angry after MillerCoors placed a Puerto Rican flag on a special edition, 24-ounce beer can. The can was designed to promote the annual Puerto Rican Day parade.
Parade organizers approved a commemorative Coors Light can adorned with a Puerto Rican flag in the shape of a big apple. The phrase "National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc." was also emblazoned on the can.
Organizers insisted on Friday that the can does not feature the Puerto Rican flag.
"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. It is an artwork created exclusively for this campaign, that integrates elements of 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."
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is reviewing MillerCoor's involvement with the parade. Schneiderman's office sent a letter to MillerCoors that stated their "sponsorship of the 2013 Parade has raised concerns about how the charity is being used to market and sell alcoholic products, especially in light of the 2013 Parade's theme, 'Celebrating Your Health.'"
The group that organizes the parade, National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc., is also under fire.
MillerCoors' design was approved by parade organizers who clumsily declined to speak to a WPIX reporter after he was allowed to sit within earshot of the room where they were loudly discussing how to handle the controversy.
The Coors Light cans with the disputed logo have been pulled from shelves. In a letter to the Puerto Rican activist group Boricuas for a Positive Image, a company spokesperson wrote: "We apologize if the graphic on our promotional packaging inadvertently offended you or any other members of the Puerto Rican community."
Coors has sponsored the parade for the past seven years, and this is the second time MillerCoors has committed parade faux pas. In 2011, MillerCoors pulled an ad with the word "emboricuate," or "make yourself Puerto Rican" next to a trio of beer bottles. Critics said the phrase could be easily seen as a play on "emborráchate," or "get drunk."
According to the National Institutes of Health, people of Puerto Rican origin have the highest rate of alcohol dependency within the Latino community.
From the National Institutes of Health: "Among men, Puerto Ricans tend to drink the most and Cubans the least. Among women, Puerto Ricans tend to drink the most and Mexicans the least. Across all Hispanic national groups, beer is the preferred beverage."