Less than three weeks after it pulled a television ad that was deemed inappropriate during the coronavirus pandemic, Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP) finds itself having to pull another one from the airwaves because its message is seen as insensitive.

A Miller Lite commercial that encouraged friends to get together to enjoy the beer in what it called "the original social media," was yanked because it suggested people gather when health officials are advising people to keep their social distance.

Glass and can of Miller Lite beer

Image source: Molson Coors.

No laughing matter

Titled "Hahaha" and launched in January before the COVID-19 disease was declared a pandemic, the ad highlighted Miller Lite as "the original light beer" with 96 calories and 3.2 grams of carbs and suggested it was better to get together with friends for a laugh instead of simply texting them.

Beer is suffering a secular decline as consumer drinking preferences change to other beverages like hard seltzer, but beer targeted toward athletes and featuring low carbs or low or no alcohol had been gaining traction. Molson Coors also changed in response, deemphasizing its brewery operations and dropping the word "brewing" from its corporate name while adding in "beverage."

Earlier this month it pulled from rotation a Coors Light ad that touted the beer as the "official beer of working remotely" because it might seem insensitive when people were being laid off or forced to work from home.

Some companies, though, have successfully navigated the pandemic with their advertising, such as Nike's campaign that urges consumers to "play inside, play for the world." In place of the Miller Lite ad, Molson Coors is pushing its "virtual tip jar" initiative, which asks consumers to financially support out-of-work bartenders. Miller Lite is donating $1 million to the effort.