Video: The beer commercial Italian-Americans pushed off the air

posted at 6:25 pm on June 4, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Miller has a new “protection” poptop system for their beer cans, and decided to have a little fun with the concept by creating advertising comparing it to less savory protection rackets. Frank Vincent, who played New York don Phil Leotardo on The Sopranos, more or less reprises the role in this commercial below in which a clueless clerk takes Vincent and his associate far too literally. But can Miller get away with an ad that puts Italians in a bad light? Fuhgeddaboudit:

Miller Lite beer’s new “Protection” campaign, prominently featuring actor Frank Vincent from the HBO mobster hit “The Sopranos,” is being pulled after Chicago representatives of the Italian-American community lashed out over the stereotypical mafia depiction of Italian Americans in the ads. …

“We seem to be the last breed in America that ad agencies think they can take a shot at,” said Lou Rago, founder of the Italian American Human Relations Foundation of Chicago, who helped spearhead the effort to force the new Miller Lite ads off the air. The campaign, created by DraftFCB/Chicago, was to run through the summer, but MillerCoors said it will remove the ads within a week.

On Monday, Rago participated in a conference call with MillerCoors executives who indicated they might consider running fewer of the “Protection” commercials. But when Rago and Anthony Baratta, the Chicago-based national chairperson for the Commission for Social Justice, said that was unacceptable and that they would call for a boycott of MillerCoors by Italian Americans, the brewery had by Tuesday decided to dump the entire campaign.

Mamma mia! When did we Italians (on my mother’s side) get so thin-skinned?  The same groups used to protest The Sopranos, too, and HBO had the good sense to ignore them.  Vincent, for his part, wonders the same thing:

The spots, which star the Sopranos Frank Vincent, will be pulled by the end of the week. (For his part, Vincent didn’t have a problem with the ads. “I think both of these groups should have a better sense of humor,” he said, proving that calmer heads do exist.)

Well, some calmer heads exist, anyway.  It’s just a beer commercial, paisan.  Have a brew and relax.  (via Fraters Libertas‘s Chad the Elder)


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Comment pages: 1 2

Italians, aren’t they white?

keep the change on June 4, 2009 at 6:31 PM

Everything south of Naples is Africa.

SlimyBill on June 4, 2009 at 11:43 PM

Ed, you say they pushed this ad off the air, just saw it on the Travel Channel five minutes ago.

“We’re here to offer you protection”
“Thanks fellas, but I already have protection.”
“Ohhhhhh!!”

Being an eye-tie must be fun, as for me I’m just Mexican.

bombos on June 4, 2009 at 11:47 PM

As an Italian American, I think they’re hilarious.

jjverdi on June 5, 2009 at 12:08 AM

On the one hand, I don’t have a problem with the commercials. They weren’t that funny…its been done.

On the other hand, the group is basically protesting the fact that in our politically correct world you couldn’t have a black guy at a picnic say, “Lawdy! Dat be one fine watermelon but I shores wish it had a protector lid on it!” or a Jewish character say, “oy! I love dis beer but fey…I never if its fresh or if its like a fish in da dead sea!”

BUT…you can certainly put an Italian character in and stereotype to the nth degree and if someone says anything the commentary will be, “you dago,wop, greasers need to be less thin skinned!”

As a whole, we Italians tend to be rather tolerant of the jokes and stereotypes. If we raise the BS flag from time to time so be it.

keyboarddude on June 5, 2009 at 12:50 AM

Also as an Italian-American, I can say that they’re going to find these stereotypes REAAALLY FUNNY when they wake up with their throats cut.

DrZin on June 5, 2009 at 12:50 AM

Next thing you know, somebody is going to say that having hot chicks mudwrestle over “Great Taste/Less Filling” somehow demeans women… I mean, what’s up with that?!?

gridlock2 on June 5, 2009 at 5:52 AM

Hilarious.

Besides, it’s a mob pisstake. If you feel that ‘the mob’ therefore equals ‘Italians’, then perhaps best do something about that instead.

Reaps on June 5, 2009 at 6:24 AM

If you feel that ‘the mob’ therefore equals ‘Italians’, then perhaps best do something about that instead.

Reaps on June 5, 2009 at 6:24 AM

Precisely. Not everyone in the mob was Italian, just most of them. If we shied away from mentioning the mob for fear of offending Italians, we would never have had The Godfather movies.

Kafir on June 5, 2009 at 7:14 AM

I want to see the ones in the series where they poke fun at stereotypical Blacks and Arabs.

I think it’s hysterical.

Hening on June 5, 2009 at 8:02 AM

Funny, it doesn’t seem to bother them that two Italian-American actors exploited their ethnicity in typical stereotypical Hollywood fashion to land a role.

You know like …. all soldiers are thugs, all southerners are slack-jawed idiots, all conservatives are evil conspirators, and all liberals are victims (especially minorities & women).

kregg on June 5, 2009 at 9:09 AM

Oh, hell yes, that’s a funny commercial. People really need to get over themselves. On the other hand, can you imagine a company making a commercial using a stereotypical blacks or muslims or Jews?

Jarhead68 on June 5, 2009 at 9:20 AM

good thing they weren’t black or hispanic people, they would have been attacked by the ACLU

workingforpigs on June 5, 2009 at 10:40 AM

On the other hand, the group is basically protesting the fact that in our politically correct world you couldn’t have a black guy at a picnic say, “Lawdy! Dat be one fine watermelon but I shores wish it had a protector lid on it!” or a Jewish character say, “oy! I love dis beer but fey…I never if its fresh or if its like a fish in da dead sea!”

keyboarddude on June 5, 2009 at 12:50 AM

Thats the God forsaken point why are we the only ones able to be criticized and stereotyped in this way? Both sides of my family hail from Naples, I am 100 peercent Italian, and I love mob movies, but this is bull crap!! I think it would be hysterical if an Uncle Tom Charecter came on t.v. to advertise Hanes 100% Cotton shirts and says” I knows its good cause I picked it myself”. This isn’t very much different for Italians its slandering an entire race.

Joey1974 on June 5, 2009 at 10:42 AM

Funny, it doesn’t seem to bother them that two Italian-American actors exploited their ethnicity in typical stereotypical Hollywood fashion to land a role.

kregg on June 5, 2009 at 9:09 AM

Think about all the self deprocating Jews in Hollywood, Woody Allen and Jerry Lewis made careers out of making fun of themselves.

Joey1974 on June 5, 2009 at 10:45 AM

When I see funny ads with muslims acting like terrorists, black people acting like sambos, mexicans acting lazy, columbians acting like drug mules, irish people acting like drunks and germans acting like Nazis, and those groups howling with laughter at the fun of it all, I won’t take offense to the furthering of this bad image of italians that glorifies a criminal enterprise.

Its not funny and it promotes the idea that italians are all in the mafia. I like Frank Vincent as an actor – he’s better than this. The whole Sopranos show was a disgrace and was mostly an idiotic potrayal of NJ and Italian Americans. As a NJ Italian, I was really not entertained by it. I honestly thought it was low-brow, unwatchable crap on the same level as the shittiest sitcoms.

It’s a free country and I don’t say it should be yanked. But Italians have a point and no one has done more to continue to perpetuate the negative stereotype of italian americans as murdering criminals than Hollywood.

Damn shame.

wildweasel on June 5, 2009 at 10:49 AM

Precisely. Not everyone in the mob was Italian, just most of them.

Kafir on June 5, 2009 at 7:14 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Irish_American_mobsters
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jewish_American_mobsters

Most of them?? Bigoted and reatrded

Joey1974 on June 5, 2009 at 10:52 AM

When I see funny ads with muslims acting like terrorists, black people acting like sambos, mexicans acting lazy, columbians acting like drug mules, irish people acting like drunks and germans acting like Nazis, and those groups howling with laughter at the fun of it all, I won’t take offense to the furthering of this bad image of italians that glorifies a criminal enterprise.

Its not funny and it promotes the idea that italians are all in the mafia. I like Frank Vincent as an actor – he’s better than this. The whole Sopranos show was a disgrace and was mostly an idiotic potrayal of NJ and Italian Americans. As a NJ Italian, I was really not entertained by it. I honestly thought it was low-brow, unwatchable crap on the same level as the shittiest sitcoms.

It’s a free country and I don’t say it should be yanked. But Italians have a point and no one has done more to continue to perpetuate the negative stereotype of italian americans as murdering criminals than Hollywood.

Damn shame.

wildweasel on June 5, 2009 at 10:49 AM

Amen friend, by the way in your stereotype list you forget covetus Jews and Polish people acting stupid

Joey1974 on June 5, 2009 at 10:55 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Irish_American_mobsters
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jewish_American_mobsters

Hmm. I just went to the wiki page and substituted Black, and then Mexican, for Irish and Jewish.

Not there.

Dan. on June 5, 2009 at 11:44 AM

substituted Black, and then Mexican

Maybe the next set of ads will lampoon the bloods and the crips or MS13?

wildweasel on June 5, 2009 at 11:49 AM

Oh — and with 3/4 of my Grandparents from the Naples area, (an’ the relatives all from around south Philly at one time or another), I think it’s funny commercial. I especially found the “Ohhhh!” response funny. At work we have all sorts of folks use it — whether from Georgia, Detroit, Ohio, Texas, black or white or in-between.

Dan. on June 5, 2009 at 11:53 AM

How can they get away with calling that insipid crap beer anyway?

hip shot on June 5, 2009 at 11:53 AM

How can they get away with calling that insipid crap beer anyway?

hip shot on June 5, 2009 at 11:53 AM

Well, that’s the real outrage, AFAIC.

Ed Morrissey on June 5, 2009 at 12:12 PM

Hmm. I just went to the wiki page and substituted Black, and then Mexican, for Irish and Jewish.

Not there.

Dan. on June 5, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Funny you would mention these two fabulous ethnic groups because for one the illegal immigration scams and birthright citizenship, and the siphoning of American taxpayer dollars to substantiate thier continued felonius occupation here is a bigger racket than bootlegging ever was. By the way the Mexican gangsters are called ms13 genius. The people who work at ACORN who committ felonies on election day and participate in voter fraud, and use ganster techniques like blocking polls armed with weapons are more dangerous than Al Capone was. It is because of both of these groups that you have “The One” in office. I would rather pay a vig to an Italian gangster who would actually “protect” my neighborhood rather than waste my tax dollars on “people” that would sell my Country down the crapper like these folks. Remember Michelle’s Hot Air segments, some of the 9-11 highjackers were schooled on the art of illegal document obtaining from illegals for $100.00 That’s what this Country is worth to them, and if I have offended anyone TOUGH S*** !!

Joey1974 on June 5, 2009 at 12:27 PM

This isn’t very much different for Italians its slandering an entire race.

No it isn’t.

The fact is that there are organized crime operations controlled by Sicilians, Jewish, Irish, Chinese, Vietnamese, black, Mexican, Nicaraguan… But the Sicilian La Cosa Nostra is the best known, probably because they’ve been best organized in the traditional media capital of NYC (where the most common ethnic heritage just happens to be Italian). A depiction of any of these gangs is simply that, not a slander of an entire ethnic community, any more than WWII movie showing Nazis is a slander of all German-speaking people.

The Monster on June 5, 2009 at 12:46 PM

The Monster on June 5, 2009 at 12:46 PM

Actually, you are wrong.
I want you to show me the last positive non stereotypical Italian on either t.v. or in films, and I don’t want to hear about Rocky because in part 1 he worked for a loan shark. Seriously try to think of one or two.

Joey1974 on June 5, 2009 at 1:09 PM

Hey, I am a middle aged white multi-nation back ground conservative Christian American. I thought we were the last legitimate target for liberal disdain.

Chuck from Tacoma on June 5, 2009 at 1:27 PM

as a German-American i am still T’ed off over Sergeant Schultz’s portrayal as bufoon!

pgrossjr on June 5, 2009 at 1:39 PM

I’m not of Italian descent and I can certainly understand their disdain for “The Godfather” and “the Sopranos”, but dang that was hilarious.

Since the two “wise-guys” are so obviously over-the-top, I’m thinking that most people are not actually equating them with Italians (or even Sicilians).

Larry Farr on June 5, 2009 at 2:43 PM

as a German-American i am still T’ed off over Sergeant Schultz’s portrayal as bufoon!

pgrossjr on June 5, 2009 at 1:39 PM

I’m not German-American, but I am still irritated that my father would make us watch Hogan’s Heroes!

If that were not bad enough, we watched Hee Haw too. (What is even worse, is got to sort of liking Hee Haw – oh the shame….)

Larry Farr on June 5, 2009 at 2:44 PM

We Southerners usually don’t mind being made fun of, we only ask that the joke actually be funny.

Larry Farr on June 5, 2009 at 2:50 PM

Just wait till Jamie Foxx plays Sinatra………!!!!!!

msflea on June 4, 2009 at 10:05 PM

I can just hear the “eggplant” comments now.

44Magnum on June 5, 2009 at 4:26 PM

Worse Beer Evah!

Kini on June 5, 2009 at 4:32 PM

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