By Alan Prendergast
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And then their own sugar daddy, Coors Light, jilted them for the cover of the beer's 25th-anniversary commemorative cans, released just this month. For its silver celebration, the Silver Bullet went with four odes to hip-hop rather than pushing the two looking-ready-for-a-threesome goldilocks.
But Hilary Martin, group manager for corporate communications at Coors, says the company had no intention of dissing the 26-year-old twins -- it was just looking for something else that had come of age over the past 25 years. "We were sort of looking back, and it seemed as though it was a time that hip-hop was starting to branch out more," she says. "It was being taken out of the Bronx at that time. It's a genre that has grown tremendously over the last 25 years. It's a fun celebration of Coors Light and commemorating hip-hop."
This isn't Coors's first foray into rap and hip-hop, either. At the same time the squeaky-clean twins were winning hearts and groins -- and pissing off mothers of adolescent boys -- to a song based on Tom T. Hall's country classic "I Love," Coors also had a popular commercial featuring Dr. Dre.
Contrary to recent reports that a local artist designed the cans, the 25th-anniversary campaign was developed by a San Francisco-based branding agency, which explains that it selected "four 'icons' of hip-hop: B-boyz (dancing), DJ (spinning), MC (rapping) and Art (tagging)." Gee, and we remember when Coors Light was all about women's baseball, because guys were too embarrassed to drink the light stuff. (We also remember that when Coors Light was going after the Hispanic market, its "Turn It Loose Tonight" slogan was roughly translated into "Take a Dump Tonight.")
But in terms of following the money, Coors is going after the right demographic. The company filled the coveted niche of males aged 21 to 25 with the twins, and now it's tuning to the urban market. Exposure of African-American Youth to Alcohol Advertising, a report released last month by Georgetown University's Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, quotes an anonymous "co-founder of an urban market research firm" as saying, "The best way to get white kids into a product is to get black kids to buy it."
And the best way to get black kids to buy it: Use hip hop. "A content analysis of 1,000 of the most popular songs from 1996 to 1997 found that references to alcohol were more frequent in rap (47 percent of songs had alcohol references) than other genres," according to the report. And while exactly zero of those rap references involved Coors, the company probably didn't mind. When a music video showed Kid Rock -- star of another popular Coors commercial -- buying a six-pack of beer that was clearly Coors Original, the brewer asked him to remove the Coors product and replace it with a generic version.
Coors doesn't even rate in the report's "Top 15 Alcohol Brands Overexposing African-American Youth in Magazines, 2002." Crown Royal is the top offender, with Jack, Jim, Jose and the Captain following close behind and Miller Lite sitting solidly in the middle. Coors scores much higher in radio, though, taking the bronze for "Brands With Largest African-American Youth Audiences on Spot Radio"; it places just behind Bud and Michelob.
But it was Coors Light's whiter-than-white "Why do we party? Because we can-can-can" TV ad that got Tim Seaman, an Arvada real-estate developer and father, concerned enough to complain to the national Better Business Bureau -- which convinced Coors to pull the spot. "I guess those commercials are just kind of like a two-by-four between the eyes," Seaman says. "I've got a couple of kids, and it's tough watching anything on TV these days, because you gotta grab the mute button. There are certainly a lot of humorous beer commercials, and I'm not opposed to beer or beer commercials, but these show no responsibility. Whoever is in marketing seems to be in the same kind of mindset as the people who started the XFL, and, of course, they went out of business after about a year."
Suddenly the twins are looking pretty good, aren't they? See for yourself on "Love Song Summer," a Coors Light commercial featuring the girls and now playing on a TV near you.