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CHICAGO -- Miller Lite TV ads featuring an actor from "The Sopranos" are being dropped because of complaints that they perpetuated stereotypes of Italians as mobsters, Twincities.com reported.
The ads showing a pair of menacing characters—one of portrayed by veteran character actor Frank Vincent—as they approach a bartender in one spot and a convenience store clerk in another ad.
In both ads, the "wiseguys" offer "protection," but the bartender and clerk both say they already have protection in the form of improved bottle caps and can lids to help protect the freshness of Miller Lite.
While the ads never used the word "mafia," the presence of Vincent, who played mobster Phil Leotardo on the HBO series "The Sopranos," along with the dialogue and Italian music, make it clear what type of "protection" is being offered, the report stated.
Members of Order Sons of Italy in America, which said it's the largest and longest-established organization in the United States for people of Italian heritage, along with members of other Italian-American groups, complained to MillerCoors LLC, which owns the Miller Lite brand.
As a result, the ads, along with some similar radio spots, will be running for just a few more days, although the company originally planned to run the ads for about two more weeks, MillerCoors spokesman Pete Marino said Thursday in the Twincities.com report.
The ads were not meant to offend, Marino said, but instead were seen as a spoof playing off pop culture, according to the report. He said the spots did a good job of getting out the message about the improved caps and lids.
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