Corona has found itself in a pretty rough situation. With the spread of Coronavirus and all of the attention its receiving, both from the internet and the media, it’s created a lot of false hype and negative press around the now unfortunately-named beer brand.
News of Coronavirus became popular late in 2019. Corona’s share prices have been steadily dropping since mid-December last year. Starting at 1,150 JPY, they’re currently sitting at 978 JPY. That’s a drop of -14.95%.
Stories circulated late last week of intent to purchase Corona even being down. With a PR agency even running a survey on it. Despite multiple companies reporting on it, Corona has said it’s not actually true.
5W surveyed Americans over 21 last week and found that 38 per cent of beer-drinkers wouldn’t purchase Corona ‘under any circumstances’. However, it found that only 4 per cent of those who usually drink Corona would stop. It also found that 16 per cent of Americans were confused about whether the brand and virus are related.
Corona’s parent company, Constellation Brands clapped back at the PR agency though. CEO and president Bill Newlands said in a statement, “These claims simply do not reflect our business performance and consumer sentiment, which includes feedback from our distributor and retailer partners across the country.”
“Our company does not have much exposure to international markets such as China that have been most impacted by this situation.”
There’s been a huge spike in searches for “corona beer virus”. And, googling the Corona name, Google is littered with articles about Corona’s shares, Corona’s sales, and the campaign launched by their parent company — don’t worry, we’re getting to that. This one isn’t a massive big deal, it’s not like Corona is an eCommerce brand so their online presence being swallowed up by Coronavirus stories isn’t as dire as it could be. But, given the circumstances and that there’s a percentage of people who are unsure about the link between the brand and virus… the fact that they’re greeted by those links on Google…. Isn’t ideal.
It’s pretty rough, but most of the press surrounding Corona at the moment isn’t good. Aside from the stories around their shares, the surveys based on their sales, and the memes and jokes about the unfortunate link in names — there’s the Twitter campaign. Corona’s parent company, Constellation Brands launched a social campaign with a tweet. The tweet has since been deleted but, people weren’t impressed. The campaign was to promote Corona’s new ‘Hard Seltzer’.
The promoted tweet said the new product was “coming ashore soon”. Which had Twitter users questioning the time of the campaign. Users pointed out that “Coming ashore” was probably a rough thing to say as Coronavirus was spreading globally.
It’s a good point. But would a different brand be met with the same reaction or is it all in the name again?
Not… a lot. Corona hasn’t really mentioned it, they’ve just kind of kept plugging away at campaigns that seem like they’ve been in the works for months.
They’re actively running a social media campaign called #ThisIsLiving. It’s a campaign based around international travel and holidaying.
The Corona Instagram is sharing posts with little travel hints and tips from all over the globe. From the Bahamas to Brazil to Turkey, and even El Salvador. In their defence, the campaign has been running since 2016. Buuuut, given the travel warnings and some of the awful stories coming from travellers — is it maybe a touch tone deaf?
Corona is sharing these #ThisIsLiving posts several times throughout the day, but aren’t replying to or addressing the hundreds of comments left about Coronavirus. But should they?
Should Corona be marketing against all of the bad press and the unfortunate name correlation? Or should they stay quiet?
It’s a tricky situation to be in. Staying completely quiet could mean they’ll see their shares and sales continue to drop off and misinformation spread. On the other hand, if they ran a funny campaign on this huge international issue that’s becoming responsible for thousands of deaths… it could be misconstrued as making light of a really dark situation.
So, what do you do?
SearchItLocal’s Alexander Porter agrees that, “With the seriousness of the Coronavirus, any attempt to use comedy or a light-hearted approach would almost surely backfire.”
He thinks that a campaign that puts the needs of consumers ahead of their own would be best.
“As with any great PR opportunity, this may end up boosting their image in the long run. For example, the Corona brand could release a PSA outlining ways to stay safe in the wake of the spreading virus.
“This could include clarification about the ways the virus spreads, which would help address the misinformation regarding the virus and the beer, with certain sections of society conflating the two.
“Alternatively, the company could donate a percentage of sales towards research or healthcare organisations helping fight the virus.
“Ultimately these measures should always treat the Coronavirus with the seriousness it deserves, without looking to profit off the similarity in names.”
Premium SEO NZ’s Brendan McConnell agrees with Porter, that marketing too heavily against the virus is likely to backfire. But he does agree there’s PR opportunity here.
“The damage to the brand name is clearly evident, and is to be expected given the scope of the outbreak,” McConnell acknowledges.
“They could found a task force to help with spreading valid and accurate tips to help people stay safe from the virus. Or they could contribute funds to help with the research and development of vaccines and the treatment of existing cases.
“Once they do this, it’s a simple matter of telling the public about these programs, and encouraging their active participation. This could be something along the lines of ‘50% of beer sales will go toward helping victims of Coronavirus’.
“When the going gets tough, the best thing that a brand can do is to make a genuine effort to remedy the situation, and help real people. By doing so, Corona would be showing the public that they care about their well being, rather than just about whether or not they drink their beer that sounds like the next pandemic.”