Corona beer says U.S. sales not hit by confusion over virus name

Agence France-Presse
Coronavirus and Corona beer? The company behind the alcohol brand says this is a non-issue.

BEER, NOT VIRUS. Bottles of Corona lined up. Photo from Shutterstock

NEW YORK, USA – Confusion between coronavirus and Corona beer has been a punchline of questionable taste during the outbreak, but for the brand, the matter may be no joke.

The phrase “38% of Americans” was trending Friday, February 28, on Twitter following a survey showing that proportion of beer drinkers “would not buy Corona under any circumstances now,” according to public relations firm 5W.

But Constellation Brands, which owns the Mexican-heritage beer label, disagreed, releasing a statement Friday saying that sales have stayed strong in the United States even as the virus has spread internationally, and dismissing the question as a non-issue.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by this terrible virus and we hope efforts to more fully contain it gain traction soon,” said Bill Newlands, chief executive of Constellation.

“We’ve seen no impact to our people, facilities, or operations and our business continues to perform very well.”

But the brand also got an earful on social media over an awkwardly-phrased advertising campaign to plug new hard seltzer offerings in the US.

The beverages, available in 4 “delicious” flavors, will be “coming ashore soon,” according to the spot posted to Twitter that had received 7.3 million views by Friday on the Corona USA page.

“Given what’s hitting the news right now, this seems in remarkably poor taste,” one critic posted.

“Pretty sure Corona has always had remarkably poor taste,” another replied.

5W, the public relations firm that released the survey of 737 US beer drinkers, also found that 16% were confused about whether Corona beer is related to the virus.

“While the brand has claimed that consumers understand there’s no linkage between the virus and the beer company, this is a disaster for the Corona brand,” said Ronn Torossian, founder and CEO of 5W.

5W lists several other beverage companies as clients on its website, including 1800 Tequila and Sparkling ICE. In an email, Torossian denied that the company works for any Corona competitors.

The survey results were supported by a report from market analysis firm YouGov that pointed to an uptick in internet searches for phrases like “Corona beer virus” that was weighing on brand reputation.

Brand favorability for Corona dropped from 75% in early January to 51% in late February, according to daily consumer surveys taken by YouGov. –