- Constellation Brands will continue running a campaign for its new Corona Hard Seltzer with the tagline "Coming Ashore Soon" amid criticism as people worry about the spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, CNBC reported. The company said its consumers understand there isn't a link between the virus and its business, and sales remain strong, Constellation said in a statement.
- The controversy started last week after Corona introduced its alcoholic seltzer with a video on Twitter that shows four cans of the beverage on a beach and the tagline "Coming Ashore Soon." Thousands of Twitter users commented on the tweet, including people who accused the brand of exploiting the growing coronavirus scare.
- The company said the advertising is consistent with campaigns of the past 30 years and is based on consumer sentiment toward the brand, CNBC reported. It also started running a TV spot for the hard seltzer that doesn't have the "coming ashore" wording, per iSpot.tv.
To date, any impact on the marketing industry from COVID-19 has been centered around the cancellation of large conferences like Mobile World Congress Barcelona (MWC) and Facebook's annual F8 developer conference in California. The Corona developments point to how the impact could be felt in marketers' messaging strategies.
Introducing Corona Hard Seltzer. Four delicious flavors. One splashy entrance. pic.twitter.com/XrPPr6nWrB— Corona USA (@coronaextrausa) February 24, 2020
The negative publicity surrounding the launch of Corona Hard Seltzer shows how news events can disrupt the best-laid marketing plans. Constellation Brands last month said it would spend $40 million to market the four new seltzer flavors amid massive growth in the category. The company cited research showing that makers of hard seltzer last year shipped 60 million cases, a number that could easily double this year, CNBC reported.
When Corona announced the hard seltzer's introduction in its tweet, there was little indication that the coronavirus was spreading to the United States. Companies like Apple had warned that COVID-19 was affecting its supply chain, but the stock market, an indicator of business sentiment, was still in record territory. The market started to sell off Feb. 24, the same day Corona tweeted its hard seltzer announcement, following reports that coronavirus cases had surged in South Korea and Italy. The reports indicated that the virus was spreading farther outside of China. The news grew progressively worse throughout the week as U.S. health officials warned that the number of coronavirus cases likely would rise even as they sought to quell a growing public health panic.
There are signs that the coronavirus scare is damaging Corona's brand and causing confusion among consumers, presenting a crisis communications challenge for Constellation Brands. The number of online searches for the phrases "corona beer virus" and "beer coronavirus" rose in the past few weeks, according to trends data provider SEMrush. Intent to purchase Corona beverages among U.S. adults fell to its lowest point in two years, researcher YouGov found in a survey.
Other research indicates that loyal Corona consumers don't plan to change their buying habits. Among people who said they usually choose the brand, just 4% said they would stop drinking Corona and 14% said they wouldn't order Corona in a public venue, 5W Public Relations found in a survey shared with Marketing Dive. The firm also found that more than a third (38%) of American beer drinkers said they wouldn't buy Corona now under any circumstances, while 16% said they were confused about whether Corona beer is connected to the virus.