Op-Ed: Silver Bullsh!t

Coors Light ad is out of bounds...and out of taste

After two people were killed out of bounds earlier this winter at Jackson Hole—both from out of town, neither wearing avalanche safety equipment—many skiers wondered how they had missed the message that the terrain they were skiing into was deadly serious.

Given the signage at the resort, and the fact that every ski and outdoor title has in one way or another covered the dangers of skiing out of bounds (not to mention enormous publications like the New York Times), how does someone in this day and age not get the message? Of course, accidents happen. But when it appears that the victims weren’t aware—or simply ignored the hazard—it’s obvious that more needs to be done to educate and empower skiers to take the necessary precautions.

So it was a huge disappointment to see a Coors Light ad this week suggesting that all you need to ski out of bounds is “bravery,” not adequate skills, education or equipment. Not that we look to beer commercials for higher learning, or marketers for a moral compass, but the cluelessness and stupidity behind this particular ad is appalling at best. At worst, it’s a slap in the face to all those families who’ve lost loved ones to avalanches. One wonders if Coors would use the same logic of bravery for, say, a hurricane or tornado when attempting to appeal to to a mass audience?

“The flood waters are rising. But that’s OK, just be brave and drink some shitty beer!”

If Coors really wanted to go after the young, dumb and ‘brave’ crowd, and it appears that they are, the ski world is ripe with potential. You ever skied Vail on President’s Day? Sheer terror. How about loaded a chairlift in the Midwest? Many chairs look like medieval torture devices, then you have to ski down! One-pieces, rear-entry boots, Brits on holiday at Chamonix, rental-shop employees at Vail after President’s Day…Or just go to Squaw Valley this weekend, where dozens of men and women will put on snowblades to compete in a Chinese downhill and probably drink lots of beer afterward. Talk about bravery.

Instead, Coors resorts to the tired glorification of cheating the backcountry.

Not surprisingly, Coors pulled the ad after receiving well-deserved backlash (though it’s still up on the company’s private YouTube channel). Jennifer Kerr, told CBC News in Vancouver, BC, where the ad originally aired, that the company was reevaluating the commercial. “Our Brave The Cold campaign was meant to highlight the fact that any moment can be an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and find adventure,” she said. “We have the utmost respect for the thousands of search and rescue professionals across Canada who risk their lives daily and would never want to make light of a situation that has negatively impacted someone, or their friends and families.”

We’ll step out of our comfort zone and do you one more: The message notwithstanding, it’s just a really bad ad.