Brand Strategy Future 50 Inhousing

How Molson Coors’s Vincent Ventura is shaping more inclusive narratives around beer


By Kendra Barnett, Associate Editor

March 24, 2023 | 11 min read

Future 50 inductee Vincent Ventura serves as a public relations manager at beer behemoth Molson Coors. He opens up about working across a portfolio of brands and his ethos of people-first PR.

Vincent Ventura

Vincent Ventura is on a mission to infuse “radical candor” into PR / Molson Coors

Vincent Ventura’s work experience has been surprisingly far-ranging and diverse for a young professional. He has interned for the Vatican, served as a student ambassador at the 2015 World’s Fair Expo Milano – where he collaborated with everyone from the US State Department to the James Beard Foundation – and managed public relations for luxury hotels at Nike Communications.

Since joining Molson Coors as brand public relations manager in early 2020, he has spearheaded communications and creative campaigns for a handful of the company’s top brands, including Miller Lite, Blue Moon, Peroni, Topo Chico Hard Seltzer and Leinenkugel’s. His focus on the power of earned media helped win Miller Lite‘s ‘Beers and Queer History’ book launch a Shorty Impact Award and helped garner 3.5bn earned impressions on the brand’s holiday activation ‘Christmas Tree Keg Stand.’

Now, Ventura has been named one of The Drum’s Future 50 – an honor that recognizes young and upcoming talent in the industry.

A balancing act

In his role, Ventura is tasked with connecting not only with consumers but also with the distributors who supply retailers, restaurants and bars with Molson Coors products. It’s a challenging balancing act, he says. “Half the job is the fun, public-facing things that you think of when you see these brands show up in the world, but then the other part of it is being strategic with our system and our distributors to make sure that they’re in the loop about our plans and are buying into what we’re saying. It’s impactful to not only sell the product but to also help consumers think about these brands in a new light.”

Working within a parent company also poses unique challenges and Ventura says he sometimes feels as though he’s “still at an agency” and treats each of the portfolio brands as individual clients with their own set of needs. “Every brand has its target and what it’s going after and what its business objectives are.”

Although he‘s assigned to a specific roster of brands, he also assists operations at Molson Coors’s other brands – from Coors and Keystone Light to a range of regional products, some with competing priorities. Choosing the right amount of support for each brand requires ”an enterprise mindset of considering what is going to be best for the business,” he says.

Reimagining what a brand can be

Ventura has been able to play critical roles in helping marketers mobilize their brand strategies and tell the story of the brand effectively. He has been involved, for example, in helping to amplify the brand story and identity of Topo Chico Hard Seltzer, the Coca-Cola-backed spinoff of the popular Mexican mineral water Topo Chico that launched in March of 2021.

“It’s interesting because it’s a new brand to alcohol, but not a new brand to consumers. So how does that translate? What is the world that we’re building? What is on-brand and off-brand? I was there when we were doing the sort of block-and-tackle announcement strategy.” Now, two years on, Ventura is evaluating how to evolve the new brand into “something greater.”

Much of the strategy has centered on tapping into Topo Chico’s edginess and clout among young consumers, as well as its Mexican roots. For Valentine’s Day last year, the brand invited fans to send their exes a cactus. This year? An edible scorpion. To Ventura, it’s about “understanding where your brand can make a splash and have a personality.” Brands should constantly be searching for “what feels ownable to you that only your brand can do,” he advises.

A major focus of some of Molson Coors’s beer brands in recent years has been crafting new, more inclusive narratives. As an example, he points to a recent initiative to expand Miller Lite’s appeal. “Miller Lite’s ‘a beer’s beer’ – it’s the original light beer and it’s been around for years. It’s nothing new. But it’s like, how do consumers today think about this brand? And how do we think about evolving that in 2023?”

As part of the response to this question, the brand teamed up with Colombian singer J Balvin to launch a branded, bodega-inspired clothing line featuring hoodies, sandal slides, graphic T-shirts, a bucket hat and more. All of the proceeds from apparel sales went to Accion Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting Latino-owned businesses including corner stores and bodegas. “It has been really fun to kind of flip the notion of what a light beer can do.”

It’s an approach that Molson Coors is trying to expand across a range of its brands. “We’re pushing diversity in everything we’re doing, from larger marquee things to the types of influencers and smaller scale partners we work with.”

And it’s a message that resonates with him personally: “I’m a queer person and I grew up not necessarily seeing myself in beer. It’s really cool to be working at an organization like this and really feel like we’re pushing the boundaries of what things can be.”

Among the projects that Ventura is most proud of working on is a recent initiative by Miller Lite to turn the beer industry’s historically sexist branding on its head in honor of International Women’s Day on March 8. The brand teamed up with popular comedian Ilana Glazer on a campaign titled ‘Bad $#!t to Good $#!t.’ Miller Lite collected old beer posters and ads featuring sexist depictions of women and composted them to create plant fertilizer that was then distributed to more than 200 women hops farmers to support female-led brewing.

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A finger on the pulse

Outside of his immediate work, Ventura is also keeping a close eye on what’s trending in PR and marketing more broadly, looking for key ways to evolve Molson Coors’s approaches.

In particular, he’s keen on what he calls “the art of the unexpected partnership.” He says there’s never been a better time for brands – even in different categories – to team up in new, exciting ways while staying on-brand. “Kin Euphorics, a non-alcoholic beverage brand just did a partnership with Boy Smells candles. That was really interesting to me because they’re in two totally different verticals. They’re bringing to life this idea and occasion across like multiple senses.”

Another example Ventura says he’s a fan of is Van Leeuwen’s “super provocative” brand collaborations. The boutique brand has worked with the likes of Kraft and Hidden Valley Ranch to develop surprising ice cream flavors, including macaroni & cheese and ranch dressing.

As far as the future of marketing and PR goes, he also believes that data will play an essential role. “I feel like the first major brand I saw doing data-centric campaigns was Spotify. When I was working in New York, I remember walking to Port Authority and they had a billboard that depicted Mariah Carey. And based on the amount of streams of her rendition of ‘All I Want For Christmas is You’, she would get progressively bigger. She was minuscule based on July streaming … but at the end of the year, you only see your foot.”

He believes there are ample opportunities for brands to think about applying data in their creative strategies in new ways. “More and more companies are beginning to look at what data they have available to them and how that points to consumer behavior.” At Molson Coors, he says, “everything is rooted in a real-world insight.”

A people-centric ethos

Though Ventura studied PR and communications – as well as Italian – at Villanova University, he credits much of his success to his unique approach to PR and brand communications.

“Honesty and candor get everyone in a better place. I’m a huge fan of radical candor. It’s really tough in PR sometimes to be honest and straightforward because so much of it is the way that you’re crafting a narrative. But one thing I love about working here at Molson is that I’m expected to be honest and to be candid. I’m able to have tough conversations, but also realistic ones. I want to make sure that if you’re going to buy into a program and buy into an idea, you feel good about this idea and it’s going to accomplish the objectives you want it to.”

Another critical part of his philosophy is putting people at the heart of it all. It’s a lesson he says he learned at H2 Public Relations, a boutique Chicago-based firm where he worked before he came to Molson Coors. “I learned the value of having a great team, and also just how to talk like a human and not like a robot. Everyone wants to be talked to like they’re a human. Treat people like people.”

The final element? “Having more fun than you think you should be.”

Discover who has been named the best emerging marketers in the industry in The Drum’s Future 50.

Brand Strategy Future 50 Inhousing

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