Thursday, June 9, 2011

'Emborícuate' slogan stirs controversy

Robert Vázquez, owner of the Latin Kitchen restaurant in the Bronx, told representatives of MillerCoors LLC yesterday that his establishment would no longer serve the company's beer, in protest of the company's use of the slogan "Emborícuate." He also contacted the Beer Institute to denounce what he considers the expression's perpetuation of a negative stereotype.

In recent years, some bloggers have pointed out the similarity of the slogan to "emborrachate," which, in Spanish, means to "get drunk."

Karina Diehl, a public relations manager at Coors, issued a press statement denying the negative connotation of "emborícuate." "We are using the term 'emborícuate' – a new expression that means 'become a Puerto Rican' or, as our advertisements say, 'Be proud and lift your Puerto Rican spirits' – so that everyone can celebrate Puerto Rican culture during the Puerto Rican Day parade, including people who are not Puerto Rican."

Coors has been using the phrase for three years in its advertising for the Puerto Rican Day parade, which will be held this year on June 12th. MillerCoors said that during the three years they had used the slogan, "It was well received by those who attended the parade and Puerto Rican consumers, and was never misinterpreted."

This year, however, the campaign turned controversial when a TV viewer called Channel 11 (WPIX) to complain. The conversation got heated on Twitter; web pages now exist for gathering signatures to demand that Coors stop using the slogan and to boycott the company. Monserrate Torres, radio host of the program Midnight to Daylight on Hot 97 (WQHT) said that, "The connotation is obvious and disrespectfully implies that we Latinos are alcoholics."

When asked if he protested the phrase in years past, Torres said he had never paid attention because it seemed unimportant. "But this year they donated a lot of money to the parade and you can still see the slogan at bus stops," he said.

The organizers of the Puerto Rican Day parade said that so far, they have not received any formal complaints from associations or individuals. Javier Gómez, spokesperson for the Puerto Rican Day parade, said that Coors' contribution was "instrumental" because of its support for multiple initiatives, including a $75,000 scholarship program. In a press release, he denied that the campaign is trying to insult the community, but rather "was created to celebrate Puerto Rican pride each June, in support of the parade."

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