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Entries in Controversy (2)

Thursday
May302013

Beer Cans Create Puerto Rican Day Parade Controversy

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Critics of Coors Light's participation in New York City's Puerto Rican Day Parade have vowed to continue their protest, despite a call by parade organizers that they stand down.

Complaints by Manhattan politicians and advocacy groups began earlier this week over claims that Coors disrespects the Puerto Rican flag by using it to sell beer.

MillerCoors, a corporate sponsor of the June 9 parade, will sell specially-designed cans of Coors Light in conjunction with the event. Part of the design consists of an apple-shaped emblem overlaid with a blue triangle, white star, and red and white stripes — elements of Puerto Rico's flag. The decoration looks similar, if not identical, to the logo of the parade itself, as displayed on the parade's website.

Two New York City council members and two New York state senators, describing themselves as "proud Puerto Rican elected officials," wrote to the parade's chairwoman, Madelyn Lugo on Wednesday, expressing their disappointment with and opposition to "the continued commercialization and misrepresentation of our culture" by Coors, other parade sponsors, and parade management itself.

"Permitting the placement of our flag, the most sacred and important symbol of our culture, on cans of beer is the height of disrespect," they wrote. "Why the [parade] committee feels compelled to continue to work with sponsors that seem to go out of their way to misrepresent our people is truly beyond us."

Though the parade, according to its website, is sponsored by a variety of companies, including Goya, Banco Popular, Jet Blue and Univision, the letter indicts MillerCoors in particular, calling its participation "nonsensical in a year where the committee has adopted 'Salud' [Health] as a theme."

The writers urged parade management to "stop Coors from including the flag."

How closely the decoration resembles the Puerto Rican flag is open to debate, since it mimics the flag without being an exact reproduction of it. A spokesperson for MillerCoors tells ABC News the decoration uses "elements of the Puerto Rican flag."

MillerCoors, in a statement, says it has been a supporter of the parade for the last seven years, has made contributions to a related scholarship fund, and has been a "strong partner" to various Hispanic organizations. "We've included a variation of the official National Puerto Rican Day Parade logo on our packaging…as a demonstration of our official alliance and support of the organization," the statement continued.

Parade management, in a separate statement of its own, said: "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. 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 the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc., would NEVER authorize."

New York City council member Melissa Mark-Viverito, one of the writers of protest letter, says she is not mollified either by Coors' or by the Parade's responses, calling them completely inadequate.

"That it's not disrespect of the flag is ridiculous," she tells ABC News. "There's a flag draped on the bottom of the can."

She calls it one example among many in recent years that demonstrates "poor judgment" on the part of the parade's board. She is more angry with parade management, she says, than with Coors.

"They [the board] need to exercise leadership — to be clear that our flag, our most sacred symbol, should not be commercialized and equated to a can of beer," she added.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May292013

Abercrombie Apologizes, Meets with Teens to Address Controversy

Paul Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The viral backlash against Abercrombie & Fitch for refusing to offer larger sizes for their customers, and for the controversial remarks made by their CEO, Mike Jeffries, isn’t going away.

“Not only will I not let my kids shop at Abercrombie again, I will not let them wear what they already have in their closets,” said one mom, reading from a letter in an online video.

The public outcry is still escalating a month after ABC News first reported the retailer doesn’t carry women’s sizes above a large, and that the CEO only wants cool kids in his clothes, once telling Salon magazine, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

But the PR nightmare is just the tip of the iceberg for Abercrombie’s problems. The trendy retailer announced Friday that its U.S. sales fell 17 percent in the first quarter, declines that occurred before the controversy erupted.

However, the company finally responded last week to protestors, meeting with the organizers of a Chicago rally.

“These kids are serious,” Darryl Roberts, the protest’s organizer, told ABC News. “They have had enough.”

“I’m cautiously optimistic, but I think if we continue an open dialogue with Abercrombie & Fitch, we can really make some real change to their business and business across the world,” added Benjamin O’Keefe, 18, creator of an Abercrombie & Fitch petition on Change.org that garnered more than 73,000 signatures.

O’Keefe’s petition caught the retailer’s attention, who agreed to sit down with him on May 21 to discuss how Abercrombie can improve upon its lack of diversity in their clothing and branding.

Shortly after the meeting’s conclusion, an Abercrombie spokesman released the following statement apologizing for past comments: “We look forward to continuing this dialogue and taking concrete steps to demonstrate our commitment to anti-bullying in addition to our ongoing support of diversity and inclusion. We want to reiterate that we sincerely regret and apologize for any offense caused by comments we have made in the past which are contrary to these values.”

But for some, like blogger Jes Baker, creator of a faux Abercrombie & Fitch campaign, it’s too little too late.

“The only thing you’ve done through your comments is reinforce the unoriginal concept that fat women are social failures, valueless, and undesirable,” Baker writes on her blog, The Militant Baker. “Your apology doesn’t change this.”

Sources at Abercrombie & Fitch tell ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis the company expects to make an announcement next week with more details on how they will combat bullying.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio