Mark Ritson: Corona Beer’s Bad Press Will “Propel It To Top-Of-Mind Status For Millions”

Mark Ritson: Corona Beer’s Bad Press Will “Propel It To Top-Of-Mind Status For Millions”

If you’d been reading B&T’s reporting on comparisons between Corona Beer and the coronavirus you’d have every right to be befuddled.

Initial reports suggested that – somewhat strangely – people were linking the beer to catching the virus.

Last Friday, it was reported that the beer’s brewer, Belgian-headquartered Brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, was looking like taking a $260 million hit to the bottom line as drinkers abandoned the fabled Mexican brew.

Another survey suggested 38 per cent of Americans wouldn’t drink Corona “under any circumstance”.

However, come Tuesday, reports out of the US claimed that sales of Corona had, in fact, increased by 3.1 per cent and led to the boss of its US distributor, Constellation’s Bill Newland, to label the unfavourable media coverage as “extremely unfortunate” and “misinformation”.

Now the planet’s favourite marketing ne’er-do-well, Professor Mark Ritson, has weighed in claiming the massive press exposure Corona beer is receiving will inevitably prove a boon for the beer.

In his weekly column for UK’s Marketing Week titled Coronavirus Won’t Hurt Corona, It Will Actually Boost Sales the goodly Professor argues that all Corona’s press will rocket the brand to drinkers’ top of mind.

Despite the headline, Ritson actually spends much of the article shitcanning Burger King’s recent mouldy Whopper campaign (read B&T’s reporting on that here). And, as a little aside, it follows on from the fast food giant being named WARC’s top creative brand on the planet yesterday.

According to Ritson, brands can thrive despite a tonne of negative PR. He cites Marmite in the UK that saw sales increase despite being saddled as pro-UK and pro-Brexit. Also the famously awful Peleton exercise bike ad in late 2019 that was so bad, the social media exposure from it saw sales soar.

When it comes to Corona, Ritson writes: “The massive salience boost for Corona that is now happening will propel the brand to top-of-mind status for millions of beer drinkers for many weeks to come. That’s important because System 1 thinking is how most of us buy most of our shit.

“And that’s how most people buy beer. Of this I am certain. When you walk to a bar the question is not ‘does this pandemic make you feel different about any of the beers on the following list?’. The question is: ‘What can I get you?’ Or, if you drink in working-class pubs that have dogs and dartboards, a vaguely intimidating nod in your direction.

“Either way, the answer that will spring to mind for thousands of drinkers in the current and coming months will be ‘Corona’. Not because of what it stands for. Not because of the negative associations it evokes. Just because that was the first beer that came to mind. The reptile brain wins again. And so – if this column is correct – will Corona.”

And Ritson could well be spot-on. As the chart below proves, all the negative press hasn’t hurt Corona’s reputation in Australia.

The chart, provided to B&T by research firm YouGov, shows that when it comes to Australia, all the press has proven positive in key metrics such as positive buzz, word of mouth and ad awareness.

A YouGov spokesperson noted: “We’ve seen no significant negative shift in awareness, consideration or reputation for Corona since 1st January and have actually seen an increase in word of mouth, attention, and ad awareness with a very large increase positive buzz. That is, people hearing positive things about the brand.”


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