Sofia Colucci, chief marketing officer for Molson Coors, which owns Miller Lite, has deleted multiple social media account pages in the wake of backlash against a 2-month-old beer advertising campaign characterized by some as “woke.”
Miller Lite’s “Bad $#!T to Good $#!T” ad was released in March in a nod to Women’s History Month. Actress and comedian Ilana Glazer is the centerpiece of the initiative, which acknowledges the beer maker’s past advertising that objectified women by using bikini-laden models. It encourages hundreds of female brewers to grow hops for thousands of beers.
The ad has drawn more attention and, in turn, more criticism now than during its initial release amid other recent backlash against competitor Anheuser-Busch and Bud Light, which partnered with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney and led to a drastic drop in sales for being labeled as too “woke” by a segment of consumers who tend to lean conservative.
As of Tuesday, Colucci’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages were all either nonexistent or temporarily disabled. Older posts published by Colucci and republished by the Daily Caller showed her and the Miller Lite brand’s support for the COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to her own complimentary statements toward comments made by former President Barack Obama in wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in 2020.
“People can take issue with our ads or our brands, but we won’t stand by as people personally attack our employees—especially given that these are company decisions, and are never made by one single person,” Adam Collins, Molson Coors’ chief communications and corporate affairs officer, told Newsweek on Tuesday.
“We have thousands of hard-working people from all walks of life who are only doing what millions of other Americans do every day, working hard to earn a living, and we will always support them and stand by their work.”
Colucci joined Molson Coors in 2017 to lead the U.S. innovation team, according to Brand Innovators, and was later promoted to global vice president of the Miller family of brands. She has been responsible for campaigns involving beer, hard seltzers and a Mother’s Day campaign that earned more than 650 million social media impressions.
When Colucci was 38 and Molson Coors’ vice president of innovation, she was named one of Crain’s Chicago Business’ “40 under 40.” She was credited by higher-ups for changing the company’s innovative approach and bringing in the largest inventory of new products in a five-year period.
“When Sofia decides she’s going to make something happen, there’s absolutely no stopping her,” Gavin Hattersley, CEO of MillerCoors, told Crain’s. “Her tenacity is exactly why we tasked her with leading our innovation portfolio.
“The beverage business is more competitive now than ever, and Sofia is putting us in a great position by taking smart risks so we can quickly bring new products to the marketplace.”
Colucci was promoted to chief marketing officer on March 1 of this year, according to AdAge.
“We’ve seen a transformation over the last number of years in terms of how we approach our brands, how we bring a strong point of view, how we’re doing things that are culturally relevant,” Colucci said in an interview. “And what we’re going to do is focus on amplifying that.
“I think we’ve created something really special with Miller Lite. And so you can expect that we’re going to take that across to all of our brands in the Molson Coors portfolio.”
Prior to joining Molson Coors, Colucci reportedly spent seven years at PepsiCo in different brand management and innovation roles, including a large North American nutrition-based focus centered on brands like Quaker and Tropicana.
Ryan McCormick, branding expert at public relations firm Goldman McCormick, told Newsweek that companies that make great products or provide fantastic services should strive to be judged on those qualities.
“Logic would indicate that a company which can appeal to the largest customer base stands to generate the most revenue,” McCormick said. “Businesses substantially lower their risk of alienating their loyal customers and broad appeal base by staying away from contested political and social issues.
“What I find particularly interesting about the advertising direction of beer companies like Bud Light and Miller Coors is that both seem surprised at the public reaction. It is common knowledge that America has become increasingly polarized. If an ad champions the virtues of one group or one ideology, it also alienates all those who are not part of that group or ideology. Ads can be effective and culturally relevant without having to step into this arena.”
Elizabeth Hitch, senior director of marketing for Miller Lite, said in March that the ad drawing attention was a recognition of women’s role in beer making.
“To honor this we wanted to acknowledge the missteps in representation of women in beer advertising by cleaning up not just our $#!T, but the whole industry’s $#!T while benefiting the future of women and beer,” Hitch said, according to PR Newswire.
Glazer also praised the campaign, saying the ad provided information to which she wasn’t originally privy.
“I know women have been erased from building many industries from the ground up, and yet I was still surprised to learn that they were among the first beer brewers in history,” Glazer said. “After years of treating women like objects, the beer industry has an opportunity to shed more light on just how powerful women’s contribution has been.”