Making the best out of a bad situation

060715_2In a story that is just now bubbling to the surface, The Denver Post  reported last week that Pete Coors, vice chairman of Coors Brewing Company, was arrested in May for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol. Acceding to the Post, Coors was pulled over after running a stop sign, and was arrested after registering a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit of 0.08.

Boy, oh boy. It doesn’t get much worse for a beer company then having your top dog get nailed for drunk driving. Ouch! What’s next? Smith & Wesson’s CEO being wounded by one of his own handguns?

To his credit, Coors issued a written apology, saying, "I should have planned ahead for the ride. For years, I’ve advocated the responsible use of our company’s products. That’s still my message, and our company’s message. I am sorry that I didn’t follow it myself."

As might be expected, the Coors Company isn’t saying anything about the incident. While there’s tons of information, advice and statements on the Company website about responsible drinking, there’s nary a dram of info about Pete.

Which is too bad. Because I think there’s an opportunity to turn this little image nightmare around.

Rather than sweeping the incident under the rug, I think Coors should "step up to the bar" and initiate an exponentially more hard-hitting corporate social responsibility (CSR) program than the one currently in place. The initiative I have in mind would actually call attention to Pete’s not having "walked the walk" when it comes to responsible driving, and would feature the photogenic Mr. Coors in a lead role.

I’d call the CSR campaign "Pete’s Promise," and would have him leading lectures, roundtables, web chats, podcasts, etc., on the need for responsible driving. We could even reach out and create a co-branded partnership with Jaguar, the car that Mr. Coors was driving when the incident occurred, and host a series of responsible driving clinics at Jaguar dealerships.

Pete, though, needs to be the guy behind the wheel, the guy driving the campaign. Because, in my mind, the best spokespeople are those who have "lived" the experience. After the drunk driving arrest, Pete’s truly walked the walk, and can speak from the heart about the dangers of driving under the influence. From an image and credibility standpoint, I honestly think it would resonate with consumers (assuming, that is, that Pete Coors has seen the light and no longer gets behind the wheel when he’s half gassed).

Sadly, though, my "Pete’s Promise" CSR program will probably never happen. For one thing, Pete’s probably embarrassed beyond belief. For another, the corporation most likely wants to move on to much bigger and better things in a hurry (faster even than Pete’s Jag can do zero to 60).

Do me one favor, though, before you sweep this little imbroglio under the rug, Mr. Coors? Can you let us know if you got sloshed on your own brew?

One thought on “Making the best out of a bad situation

  1. Haha, I wondered the same sentiment to my colleagues after reading this. Surely, a CEO with nearly a $1 million salary isn’t throwing back Silver Bullets, right?
    Then again, that kind of money couldn’t afford a cab ride, nay, a limo ride? Anything to get himself home without finding himself in tomorrow’s papers, but more importantly in one piece.
    Your last comments are true though. Wealthy Corporations are more concerned with measuring their image in how it relates to next quarter’s bottomline than anything else. I can imagine them mulling the incident over in the ensuing days of the Denver Post break and considering their options. Like Edward Norton’s job in Fight Club, I bet they balanced them as what would be more costly — the lost sales from dissuaded consumers; or the cost for an effective communications program to restore the image for ex-Coors drinkers.
    In this case, a wham-bam crisis first-aid kit ought to do the trick. A couple public statements here , a couple courtesy mentions on the company web site there and we’re out of the water.