Coors Light Bear

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An NFL policy prohibits players from endorsing alcoholic beverages. So Coors found a linguistic work-around:

Last year's commercial promoted the Coors (Flash) Light:

I have some inter-related contractual and cultural questions. Are these commercials really consistent, legally, with a contractual agreement not to promote alcoholic beverages? Is is crucial that there is actual merch you can buy, associated with the punning products allegedly advertised (a flashlight last year, a bear-shaped golf club cover this year)? And are there any other legally-restricted products besides beer where such work-arounds would be winked at?


  1. Victor Mair said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 5:31 am

    Beer manufacturers can be very clever and crafty in their advertisements. Cf. Carlsberg's "Token Cantonese" (5/6/15).

  2. Jenny Chu said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 8:50 am

    Camel Active is the first thing that comes to mind – a clothing brand owned by Japan Tobacco. Although it does actually sell clothes, it is hard to imagine that exists for any reason other than to promote the Camel name (which it shares with the cigarette brand). The name and logo are very carefully designed to be different enough from the cigarette brand that it is still just on the legal side of legal.

    I recall Dunhill pulling a more obvious trick ~25 years ago in Vietnam. They put a spot in heavy rotation on local TV showcasing a lot of luxury goods branded with the Dunhill name and logo, but no actual cigarettes. As I recall they were fined for that one.

  3. Brett said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 12:00 pm

    I suspect that part of the reason Coors and Mahomes have gotten away with these ads is that Mahomes is probably not actually being paid anything. It's highly likely that Coors donated to his charity instead, just like the profits from the sales of the novelty products go to charity.

  4. J.W. Brewer said,

    June 17, 2023 @ 1:55 pm

    I doubt that there's a general answer to your general question, because different institutions that for whatever reasons have some sort of "no-beer-endorsements" policy may have quite variable levels of passion about and commitment toward that policy, not least because of different motivations for having such a policy, some of which would point more toward a "pro forma lip service only" enforcement approach (so transparent workarounds and loopholes are not going to get them upset) and others of which would point more toward a "will be applied equally strictly to any arguably ambiguous or borderline case" sort of enforcement approach.

  5. Sunreeta said,

    June 19, 2023 @ 10:30 pm

    In India alcohol brands advertise under the garb of things like bottled mineral water or music CDs. Coors does a better attention-grabbing job but it feels like a more direct jibe at regulators. Somehow feel Indian alcohol labels might have consciously avoided this road.

  6. A. Barmazel said,

    June 20, 2023 @ 8:42 am

    I remember that in the mid-1990s, after Russia banned vodka ads on the TV, a clip in frequent rotation showed a heavily drunk man uttering the name of a known vodka brand. As the clip didn't show or mention any alcoholic merchandise, it was allowed onto the TV.

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