Coors billboard brews angst after featuring glaring error

Coors Billboard Brews Controversy in NYC
Coors Billboard Brews Controversy in NYC

THE BRONX (N.Y.) -- For the third time in five years, Coors beer is the brewing angst in New York. This time, though, the problem does not directly involve alcohol or ethnicity. Instead, it involves geography. Specifically, the name of one geographical location in New York that virtually everybody knows — except, apparently, Coors.

To be more precise, Merriam Webster's dictionary defines the word "article" as "any of a small set of words or affixes used with nouns to limit or give definiteness to the application." It cites as examples the words "a," "an," and "the."

This story is an article about the last of the three aforementioned articles: the. It's missing from a billboard along the Major Deegan Expressway, near Yankee Stadium. Emblazoned across the billboard is the slogan, "Born in the Rockies, Lives in Bronx."

Clearly, Coors had no problem with "the" when describing its manufacturing location, in the Rocky Mountains. But when it came to the location where it's attempting to sell its brew, it's another case entirely.

"It's missing something," said Eric Davis as he waited for his usual Metro-North train from Yankees-East 153rd Street Station next to Macombs Dam Park. "It's not correct."

Kate Moore works in the Bronx, and was waiting for the same train. She laughed when she saw the imperfectly written slogan.

"That's sad," she said.

Sojourner Stewart, a lifelong Bronx resident, called it heartbreaking.

"We're the only borough with a T-H-E in front of it. We should definitely be acknowledged for that," she said.

However, on its billboard viewed by passengers in an estimated 300,000 cars daily, Coors has not included T-H-E. It may not be too far a stretch to assume that Coors assumes the U.S. Congress meets in Capitol, or that the pope is seated in Vatican.

Seriously, though, and for certain, Coors's parent company, SABMiller/Molson Coors has had egg on its face in New York City before. As PIX11 News reported in 2011, its slogan at the time, "Emboricuate," was interpreted by some to equate being Puerto Rican with drinking beer. Then, two years later, when the company put an image of the Puerto Rican flag on Coors cans, the move further offended people who felt it disrespected the flag of the Caribbean-American commonwealth.

Now, another two years have passed, and there's another controversy. Arguably, as the saying goes, there's no such thing as bad publicity. Indeed, Coors is receiving publicity from this article.

However, by that ad not using an article of a different sort — the word "the" — company is receiving negative reviews from the very people it intends to target: people in the Bronx.

"I don't think a lot of people are going to buy this product," said John Spiciarich, who was born in the city's northernmost borough. "People are going to say, 'Lame.'"

"Where's 'the?'" asked Frank Simpson, on his way home from his job near Grand Concourse. "'Lives in Bronx?'" he asked, referring to the slogan. "[Bronx], Colorado? I don't think so."

Another man in the Bronx, who did not give his name, had his own theory as to why the billboard, which also showed a three story-tall can of Coors, left the key word off.

"They didn't have enough room for the can with 'the,'" he said. "They're selling beer."

He felt that if the billboard read "Lives in THE Bronx," the product being promoted could not be shown in the outsized ad.

Late on Monday, SABMiller/Molson Coors issued the following statement, from Jonathan Stern, Director of Media Relations for MillerCoors, showing that it will take immediate action:

"We regret the error knowing that the borough should properly be stated as The Bronx. The signs are being taken down today and will be replaced with new ones."

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