Archive for August 28th, 2008

As with most humans, contraversial news always attracts my attention. Especially, when said controversy is in the beer community.

Mexican beer company, Cervececia Minerva, has recently been criticized for its new beer named Malverde – after Jesús Malverde, the “Narco Saint.”

Jesús Malverde is a folklore hero and celebrated folk saint in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. He is particularly celebrated among those involved in drug trafficking. BUT, Malverde is not officially recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

For many people, Malverde is more than just a “Narco Saint.” He is revered by many across Mexico and the United States as a protector and defender of the poor. To them Jesús Malverde is the “Generous One,” or “The Angel of the Poor.” Many equate Malverde to Robin Hood.

The existence of Malverde is not historically verified. Biographical details of Jesús Malverde are sketchy at best. However, his story has gone to inspire thousands upon thousands of Mexicans.

Today, Jesus Malverde is most commonly known as the patron saints of drug dealers. Many drug traffickers carry symbols of him and Mexican prison cells are often decorated with his image. There is even a shrine dedicated to Malverde in Culiacán, Mexico – which attracts thousands of devotees each year.

Minerva Brewery is donating 1 percent of its profits to a chapel dedicated to Malverde in the city of Culiacán. The company says the beer is not meant to glamorize the drug trade.

“We’re just trying to honor a Mexican legend, that’s all,” said Jesús Briseño – the Minerva Brewery’s general manager.

Briseño said he got the idea for the beer after visiting Malverde’s chapel.

The name Malverde literally translates to “green evil”  – also considered a youthanism for marijuana.

Malverde’s green label features a hops plant, the mustache-wearing Malverde and the slogan “A hero, a legend, a beer.”

The beer itself is described as being a malty, European-style pilsner – with some of the barley being imported from Wisconsin. It is about twice as expensive as other Mexican beers.

The release of Malverde beer comes at a peek time of drug related crimes and turmoil in Mexico. There have been 2,000 drug-related murders in Mexico this year, including scores of ghastly beheadings. Hundreds of victims have been police officers.

Many civic groups in Sinaloa, including Los Mochis Area Business Owners’ Association, are outraged by the Malverde beer and have expressed sincere criticism and disdain towards it and the Minerva Brewery. Wal-Mart of Mexico has refused to carry the beer due to the connection between its name and the drug trade.

Some of you may be aware of my [ultra negative] sentiments towards Wal-Mart. Needless to say, if Wal-Mart [the KING of globalization and international controversy] is refusing to carry a product … it MUST be RIDICULOUSLY controversial.

From a marketing perspective, the name of the beer and the label design are quite clever. While the story of Malverde is interesting,  this is probably not the appropriate time for such a marketing stint – considering the huge turmoil and devastation that Mexico is currently experiencing.

News Source: The Arizona Republic


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