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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Molson Coors - look behind the mask

Just window dressing?
In recent years, Molson Coors has been carefully honing a positive image for itself among drinkers and the public. Unfortunately, the gap between their PR and their actions is becoming an unbridgeable gulf. Here are some examples:

Publicity:
1. Molson Coors won a lot of brownie points when it took over the Cornish brewer Sharps, best known for Doom Bar, and instead of closing it, actually invested in it and declared that it was committed to its future. This certainly helped improve their image among real ale drinkers. I wrote about this in January.

2. Molson Coors has sponsored the grandly-named beer bloggers conference (in reality, a themed holiday). The conference website urged attendees a year or two ago: "If you are attending this weekend, please make sure to thank MolsonCoors when you get the chance!" What a great endorsement from one of the organisers.

3. Carling, a Molson Coors brand, is sponsor of the current Scottish national side and was until recently sponsor of the English League Cup.

Points 1 and 2 are designed to get beer drinkers on board, and to that end have been quite successful. Point 3 is aimed not only at sports fans, but also at the general public by getting the Carling name displayed prominently on TV and in the press.

Reality:
1. In February I wrote about how Molson Coors, despite their sponsorship of national football, was trying to evict Alton Town FC, a football team in the regional Wessex League, from its ground to build houses, even though alternative venues aren't readily available and the team may fold as a result. As I previously wrote, they probably counted on the fact that this spiteful piece of money grubbing, which must be worth peanuts to the world's seventh largest brewer by volume, would be unlikely to make national news; if so, they're right, although Private Eye did its best.

2. Unite members at the Molson Coors Burton Brewery and Shobnall Maltings are fighting plans to sack the 455-strong workforce and re-employ them on inferior terms with pay cuts of up to £9,000 per year. Agreements previously made with the workforce would be torn up and replaced by terms unilaterally imposed by Molson Coors. Earlier this year, the company had been campaigning for a reduction in beer duty to help its profitability, but even though this has happened, they are still attacking the pay and conditions of their staff.  More information here, and if you agree with me that such behaviour is unacceptable, there's a petition here.

These examples show that their commitment to sport is only to high profile events - stuff the grass roots - and to brewing only to make money; Sharps and bloggers' conferences are just so much window dressing. I understand that capitalist companies exist to make money, but there is more than one way of going about it: trying to crush your workforce into submission is not the only option. If we see any more good news stories concerning Molson Coors, it's worth bearing in mind that any good PR from this company is just a mask.

3 comments:

  1. OK, that's White Shield added to the boycott list.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Coors has a long history in the US of union-busting and funding right-wing think tanks.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I suppose, Ed, that you could apply positive reinforcement, which in education refers to modifying children's behaviour by reinforcing desired actions, usually by praise or rewards. It could be argued that drinking White Shield and Sharps ales may encourage Molson Coors to brew more decent beer. It's a long shot, I know.

    ReplyDelete

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