Monday, October 27, 2014

A Beer Identity Crisis: How Corona Lost its Way

                Often times it’s the drinks of hard liquor persuasion that are most closely associated with tropical beaches and equatorial trade winds; what with their pointy umbrellas and exotic fruit decorations.  Yet in America when you think of a beach beer, or at the very least summertime beer – almost everyone will first think of having a Corona with a lime[i].  

For years Corona and their iconic exclusively tropical beach-themed advertisements and taglines have been ubiquitous with laying back, digging your feet in the sand, and enjoying the beautiful coastal views.  

Lately though it seems Corona[ii] is trying to change their tune, if ever so slightly, by expanding their “Find Your Beach” theme into broader, relativistic meaning (i.e. “Your beach doesn’t really have to be a beach”) – and in my opinion at the expense of its marketing core competency.

                For anyone that’s ever watched a major sports event on network TV in the past 20 years, Corona’s beach themed commercials are very familiar.  My personal favorite is the one below, chalk-full of a life truths ;)
As a mostly beer neophyte myself, I almost always grab for a Corona if available primarily because of their commercials.  They’ve done such a good job associating the beautiful, care-free atmosphere of lounging on a tropical beach with their brand that I completely buy into the association…as if I will indeed be transported to that glorious place if just pop the top.  Which is why I was disappointed to see they’re really diluting that association nowadays (see below). 
A cold football game?  Come on Corona…nobody’s fooled.  Stop trying to redefine what a “beach” is.  When your brand is extrapolated way beyond its original intention at the behest of the bean counters’ desire to expand profits (see Mercedes’ AMG and BMW’s M brands) – you open yourself up to full-blown identity crisis?  And that’s what Corona’s latest advertisement campaign seems to be doing.  

Sure I get the economic reasoning…it makes dollars and sense.  But for every markedly non-beach scenario you pimp yourself out to, you lose a little bit of what made your drink “lifestyle” so appealing and unique in the first place.  Soon you start to become just another behemoth beer brewer…not a tropical dream maker.  

Marketing this stuff is about transporting your consumer to a place they want to be instead of where they currently are – not keeping them there and tossing them a cold one.  

Maybe I’ll switch to Michelob Ultra… or maybe Corona NA needs to take a lesson from their colleagues down under.  From where I'd rather be indeed...

[i] In Tahiti, the beer of choice is Hinano
[ii] Corona Extra (Coronita in Spain) is a pale lager produced by Cervecería Modelo in Mexico for domestic distribution and export to all other countries besides the United States, and by Constellation Brands in Mexico for export to the United States. The split ownership is a result of an anti-trust settlement permitting the merger of Grupo Modelo with AB InBev. It is one of the top-selling beers worldwide.

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