Corona Beer – The collateral victim of the coronavirus

April 4, 2020 News 0 Comments

COVID-19 was announced as Coronavirus and soon got pandemic status. Along with the global population and economy, there is one brand that faced the direct impact – Corona.

In no time, Google recorded a 2300% rise in the search term Corona beer virus. So while the brand saw a spike in traffic, it created a damaging effect. Corona beer manufacturers had to bite the bullet and justify the brand. Is it too early to change the brand name? How is the journey going to be for this collateral victim?

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Corona: the beer brand that is losing market share due to the coronavirus

We cannot repeat it enough, the choice of a brand name is essential. This is true; when you create a brand, it is important to choose your name carefully so as not to mislead the consumer or get affected due to its negative image.

However, for this brand of beer which has been in business for years and recognized as one of the 10 top-selling brands of beer in the world, the case is different. The brand saw its market shares plummet with the arrival of the coronavirus; certainly, the company could not have foreseen these negative effects.

According to a study by YouGov, the beer brand that enjoyed a positive image of 70% to 80% among Americans. Brand favourability for Corona dropped from 75 per cent in early January to 51 per cent in late February, owing to the current circumstances with COVID-19. 

The launch of Corona’s carbonated drinks

The brand had plans to launch its carbonated drinks and soda water in February 2020. An advertisement was released on Twitter promoting new carbonated water with a slogan which announced the “imminent landing” of the product. 

While the ad got over 7.3 million views, it had to be pulled down due to the flak it received on social media. Many Internet users found the “joke” in very bad taste. In view of the reactions, the brand quickly deleted the video to avoid the bad buzz, but the damage was already done.

How should the beer brand have reacted?

It is true that the brand was unlucky, due to the fact that this deadly virus bears its name and that there is little it can do.

The Mexican brand should have taken the opportunity to conduct a preventive campaign against the virus rather than communicating on a new product with a biased slogan.

Set up a content strategy combined with PRs

As a marketer, if I were to advise a brand like Corona so as not to tarnish its reputation because of a virus, I would have offered to implement a content strategy with a specific editorial line for the situation in order to educate consumers about good practices in relation to the epidemic.

A mini-site could have been created by the brand with why not quizzes, mini-games, some advice in the form of articles and infographics which could easily be relayed by the press to keep the positive image that Corona occupied with consumers.

Setting up this type of content strategy would allow the brand to make people forget the bad buzz that was there around their video. The other proposal is to set up a PR strategy to reassure consumers and ensure that the media speak well of the brand during these difficult times. 

It is too early to see the real negative impact of the coronavirus on the brand. However, indicators such as the 8% fall in the share price on the New York stock exchange, of the group which markets the brand in the United States, does not reassure consumers.

The Ayds candy brand, a precursor of this type of mishap

Corona, however, is not the first brand to see its brand image plummet due to a virus or illness.

In the 80s, the candy brand Ayds had seen its sales plummet by 50% following the popularity of AIDS. This well-established candy brand at the time, which had the advertising slogan “I recommend Ayds to anyone who wants to lose weight”, caused some discomfort among consumers with AIDS.

Other brands that have suffered similar negative publicity are Isis Wallet (now Softcard), Ebola Communications, and Zika by Tata Motors.  

The brand that had finally decided to change its brand name by renaming itself “Diet Ayds” still did not survive its association with AIDS and disappeared shortly after the name change.

Hopefully this sad fate will not be the same for Corona. 

About the Author

Bhakti Sharma

A social bee by nature, I love interacting with people and get first-hand inputs on their expectations from brands which helps me produce real-life content.