Coors Light’s Ice Cold, on Immigration

To boost a pioneering quarterback's odds of entering the Hall of Fame, Coors Light is running an ad campaign leaning on his Latino heritage. Coors' corporate PAC, however, sends a different message.

The Iceman Cometh

Tom ‘Iceman’ Flores was the NFL’s first Latino starting quarterback and the league’s first minority head coach to win a Super Bowl. He’s one of just two people to have won a Super Bowl as a player, assistant coach, and head coach, and he’s one of only two coaches with two Super Bowl victories who are eligible for but not in the NFL’s Hall of Fame. By any measure, he’s a pioneer with an exceptional career. Flores’ last chance to enter the Hall will take place by vote on February 6th. 

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To boost his odds, Coors Light is running a campaign through early February that includes TV spots and a commemorative beer can adorned with Flores’ face. Fittingly, Flores’ nickname, ‘Iceman’, plays nicely with Coors Light’s boast that it’s...cold. The campaign, which leans on Flores’ Latino heritage, is also meant to garner Coors an unquantifiable amount of do-gooder cred by publicly supporting someone who made history in the face of racism and underrepresentation. If successful, the campaign will boost Coors’ image and help Flores gain entry to the Hall of Fame.

Is it Chill to Be Cynical?

Exciting as it may be to have a pioneer like Flores in the Hall of Fame, the campaign is an act of corporate cynicism that belies Coors’ support, through its political action committee (PAC), of candidates who actively supported racist immigration policy over the last 4 years. Since 2016, several candidates who received money from the MolsonCoors Beverage Co. PAC (MCBP) supported racist anti-immigration policies, notably the Mexico-US border wall and the 2017 and 2020 executive travel bans of predominantly African and Muslim countries. 

Lasting long after the veneer of the campaign fades, the policies implemented and the culture of prejudice they fomented have prevented families of immigrants such as Flores’ from flourishing in a similar manner. According to Center for Responsive Politics’ website for tracking federal and lobbying contributions, OpenSecrets.org, these are the top three House and Senate recipients of MCBP funding in the 2020 election cycle and where they stand on two key Trump-era immigration issues:

The 415 miles of erected border wall that exist will remain a monument of hostility towards Latino immigrants. It’s legacy will be that of a congress and country that aided the physical manifestation of a racist campaign pipe-dream. The travel ban has halted several families in their pursuits of better lives. The costs imposed by these policies on aspiring Americans are brutally high, yet impossible to calculate. 

Check out my deductive reasoning

From the 2016 through the 2020 election cycles, the MCBP has favored Republicans over Democrats by a roughly two thirds margin, meaning significant money still flows to Dem candidates.

Since the parties generally voted in opposition of one another on these immigration policies, it’s safe to say the policies weren’t a determining factor in MCBP’s donations. Simply, Molson Coors doesn’t care about the costs to those affected by these policies.

That Special Coors Taste

Molson Coors’ cynicism isn’t unique. As Judd Legum pointed out last year, companies publicly embraced the Black Lives Matter movement yet donated heartily to candidates that opposed the movement and had low racial justice scores from the NAACP. What makes Coors’ attempt special is that instead of broad embrace of a social cause, it goes further: a multi-pronged (ad spots, merchandising, distribution, and branding) campaign that leans on the ethnicity of its main character. 

A campaign for America’s 2nd most popular beer, against the backdrop of the nation’s most popular sport during the run up to the sport’s championship means lots of attention. Running a campaign that tacitly supports the journeys and contributions of immigrants while supporting policy that does the opposite requires confidence that your audience won’t find out, won’t care, or some combination of both. 

This mix of confidence and cynicism conveys what a brand really thinks of its customers: they’re ignorant and incapable of nuance.

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