updated 5/24/2004 2:45:49 PM ET 2004-05-24T18:45:49

The U.S. distributor of Tecate beer says it will pull billboard ads next month that were decried by some Hispanic lawmakers and community activists as offensive.

The billboards, meant to publicize that the brand was being sold in a bottle, feature a leaning Tecate beer bottle with the tag line “Finally, A Cold Latina.”

Critics said the ad propagates negative stereotypes of Hispanic women as being loose or overly sexual.

Last week, the 20-member Congressional Hispanic Caucus sent a letter to Norwalk, Conn.-based Labatt USA, asking the distributor to pull the ads. And several people turned out at a rally in Los Angeles to protest the campaign.

In a statement released Monday, Labatt USA officials said they decided to “retire” the billboards by the end of the month, which the company said coincided with the original schedule for ending the ad’s rotation. Recently, the company pulled the ads in Albuquerque, N.M., after a youth group there complained.

“This billboard was created to be tongue-in-cheek and humorous, for a mature adult audience,” Victor Melendez, Labatt’s director of marketing, said in a statement. “We intended no disrespect in any way, and in fact, we heard from many Tecate drinkers who told us the ad is clever and funny.”

State Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, who was behind the letter to Labatt USA, hailed the company’s decision to end the campaign.

“I hope the company learns from this experience and does a better job in the future of self-regulation to prevent consumers from viewing such offensive material,” she said in a statement.

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