Miller Lite announced yesterday that, for the second year in a row, it will partner with the Dallas Cowboys and a nonprofit called Adelante U.S. Educational Leadership Fund "to support educational programming and resources for Hispanics through the 'Scoring for Education' campaign."
In layman's terms, that means that between September 1 and October 31 proceeds from sales of select cans of Miller Lite in Texas and Oklahoma will go to Adelante, which Miller helped establish in 1993 to fund scholarships and other programs for Hispanic college students. To make sure everyone knows about the beer giant's good work, it's enlisting former Cowboys lineman Tony Casillas, who has this to say:
The Miller Lite 'Scoring for Education' program is a great way to give back and engage with the community. I encourage legal-drinking-age football fans across the state of Texas and Oklahoma to purchase select cans of Miller Lite and know that they are supporting the next generation of Latino leadership and a great cause for the future of our communities.
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Setting aside the irony that Miller is making a sales pitch on the backs of (and to a certain extent to) kids who aren't old enough to drink, Adelante did give out $113,606 in grants and scholarships in 2010 to kids from an underserved population who might not otherwise have enough money for college. That's a good thing.
That warm fuzzy feeling is snuffed out when you look at the nonprofit's tax filings. Sure, it spent some money on scholarships, but it spent even more money, $129,274, on salaries. When you throw in other expenses -- $12,219 on accounting, $8,128 on office expenses, a whopping $80,103 on conferences, conventions and meetings -- the nonprofit spends three-quarters of its money running the nonprofit and one quarter actually doing the work the organization was ostensibly formed to do.
The takeaway: Adelante is a de facto marketing arm of Miller, which still provides the vast majority of its donations. It's a cheap way to give the brand a more positive image, but it's also deeply cynical. So if you're going to buy Miller Lite anyways, fine, you have no taste buds. Just don't do it because you think you're helping Hispanic kids go to college.