Ubaid Zargar

Corona Beer clears the air about its mistaken identity with Coronavirus

Corona Beer has released a statement about how the recent mistaken link-ups between the brand and the fatal Coronavirus has affected the brand. The statement came after netizens rushed the Google to draw parallels between the beer brand and the Wuhan-originated COVID-19 virus.

Ever since the devastating Coronavirus surfaced from the China's Wuhan town, panic has gripped people across the globe due to the pandemic implications of the deadly disease. Naturally, people rushed the internet to know more about the outbreak and its possible triggers and antidote.

In an unlikely turn of events, a few weeks ago Google revealed that people have mistaken Corona Virus with Anheuser-Busch InBev owned beverage subsidiary brand Corona Beer, putting the beverage manufacturer in a sensitive spot. We mean, who would want to be associated with a virus that is killing people around the world?

Google Trends showed a spike in searches for 'beer virus' and 'corona beer virus' between January 26th and February 1st. According to a new survey, 38 per cent of beer drinkers insisted that they would not, under any circumstances, buy Corona as the deadly virus spreads across the globe. The survey was conducted by 5W Public Relations on American demographic.

There is absolutely no connection between the fatal disease and the brand – except for the name. But how does it affect a brand when it shares its name with a virus? Well, Maggie Bowman, senior director of communications - beer division, Corona said in a statement, “Despite the misinformation circulating consumer sentiment and sales remain strong. Consumers understand there is no linkage between the virus and our business.”

“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 officer, Constellation Brands, in a statement. “We’ve seen no impact to our people, facilities or operations and our business continues to perform very well.”

While the brand has come out defending its reputation amidst the global speculations that correlate the beer with the virus, some experts hold a different view of the scene. Asked to comment on Corona's statement, 5W chief executive officer, Ronn Torossian said in a statement, “There is no question that Corona beer is suffering because of the coronavirus.”

He adds, “Could one imagine walking into a bar and saying, 'Hey, can I have Corona?' or 'Pass me a Corona'. While the brand has claimed that consumers understand there is no linkage between the virus and the beer company, this is a disaster for Corona brand.” Essentially, even if there is no relation between the virus and the beer, the commonality of the name by itself is a bit of a red flag.

As revealed by the Google Trends, the panic around the viral outbreak still has a strong foothold on people. For second half of February, searches for 'What to stock up on for pandemic?' was up +4,900 per cent while 'What is a global pandemic?' had shot up by over +6000 per cent.

Many brands have had their share of misfortune on account of viral epidemics in the past. To name a few, Tata Motors in 2016 had to rename its new short car from Zica to Tata Tiago - just to avoid any correlation with the mosquito-borne viral disease Zika.

A netizen pointed out a similar case from the past of a brand's uncalled link-up with a virulent disease.