Examining the News

How has the Coronavirus impacted Corona Beer?

03.18.2020
Janson Wigo

One of Quid’s most powerful text analysis use cases is to help companies and brands identify and prepare for potential PR crises. Our software allows you to identify what blogs, social media, and publications are saying about your organization so you can identify the most vulnerable areas or processes.

With the recent global pandemic from the Coronavirus, the beer company Corona has received a lot of negative backlash from (unfortunately) sharing the same name as the deadly virus. A new study shows 38% of Americans “would not buy Corona under any circumstances” because of fears related to the coronavirus. A survey, conducted by YouGov, found consumers’ desire to purchase Corona is at its lowest in two years and that Corona’s buzz score, a metric measuring favorability, has dropped significantly since the beginning of the year.

We wanted to understand the media narrative around Corona beer and help answer questions like: How could Corona have seen this coming? What marketing efforts have they done since the negative backlash? How were those efforts perceived in the media? What can they do in the future to monitor these news narrative swings? And what other topics are shaping positive or negative perception of the company?

Quid’s text analysis mapped over a thousand articles on Corona, by topic to provide a bird’s eye view of major themes across the entire set of articles. We did a broad search in our news and blogs dataset around “Corona Beer” and you can see that topics like “Coronavirus myths, 14%” “The Coronavirus, 12%” and “Corona Beer Virus' Google Searches 10%” own a majority of the conversation. The two clusters “Coronavirus impacting beer sales” and “Corona Beer Firm Constellation Brands” are central to the network and broader conversation.

From the Quid timeline view from March 2019 to March 2020 we can see that the volume of coverage around Corona Beer spiked in January of this year.

There weren't a lot of news articles around the beer company prior to January. This might mean that Corona didn’t have a strong push for written media campaigns or PR. Prior to the spike, the articles mainly focused on production- for example, in October they announced that they would stop exclusively producing beer in Mexico. In November, there were articles around expanding their production footprint to the UK.

Then, around the 25th of January, articles started popping up around how people believed there is an association with the beer and the virus. According to one of the first articles published, they mentioned that apart from the normal virus Google search terms, terms like, 'Coronavirus beer', 'Corona virus beer' and 'Virus corona beer' started trending toward the end of January.” They go into the shocking spike in these search terms and how people are connecting this virus with the popular beer brand. According to data revealed in the article, web searches were primarily from Australia, India, Canada, and the United States.

How did Corona respond to this negative backlash? A few things happened that likely made matters worse. The first is that Corona tried rolling out a new product called Corona Hard Seltzer (see image above), which was met with mockery online. Not because of the product, but because of their marketing campaign.

All articles mentioning hard seltzer

Corona deleted the advertisement for the product on Twitter that said “Coming Ashore Soon,” after intense negative feedback. The main criticism was that the ad was done in poor taste and at a bad time. The online community accused Corona of "exploiting" the global health crisis that is going on right now. People have since declared that they will be boycotting the company. If their PR team had been monitoring the media narrative around their brand, they would have been able to adjust their hard seltzer release campaign messaging to combat the negative association with the virus, given that the launch came one month after we saw the first articles mentioning the perceived association.

All articles mentioning Bill Newlands

The second was when the President of the company, Bill Newlands came out and said that, “it’s extremely unfortunate that recent misinformation about the impact of this virus on our business has been circulating in traditional and social media without further investigation or validation.” Twitter users blasted the pitch as in “bad timing” and “extremely poor taste” amid the release of the hard seltzer ad.

The third event was toward the end of February when Newlands publicly stated that “We haven’t seen any impact,” referring to the virus’ impact on their business. Which was again met with criticism as people began referencing the initial reports that 38% of Americans “would not buy Corona under any circumstances”. You can see in the image below that most of the articles around Bill’s response were perceived negatively.

Timeline view for Bill Newlands mentions colored by sentiment.

By monitoring the media narrative around your company or brand, you will be able to catch negative mentions and better understand potential crises for which your company should be planning. If you want to learn more about our PR use case, we did a blog around YouTube, and what our recommendations were when news spiked around their public policy. If you want to learn more, you can watch a recorded Quid demo.

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