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)

Tags: New York