With the Corona virus assuming epidemic proportions globally, people are on a mad quest to find information about what causes the virus and how it is transmitted. Oddly, Mexican beer brand Corona has unwittingly found itself in the middle of this virus mayhem. People are now wondering whether the virus is caused by drinking Corona beer. And while the parent company, Constellation Brands, are trying their best to dispel the notion, folks are still not convinced.
According to Google Trends data, search terms like “corona beer virus”, “beer virus”, “beer corona virus” have gone up significantly from January 19 to January 26. Searches for “corona beer virus” jumped 2,300% globally, “beer virus” jumped 744%, and “beer coronavirus” jumped 3,233% in the same period.
Remember the popular saying, there’s no such thing as bad publicity? In Corona’s case, this certainly seems to be true. The brand doesn’t seem to be taking a rap due to the linkage with the Wuhan virus. The beer makers are not concerned and, according to media reports, stock prices seem to be stable so far. Whether or not, they will take a bad situation and make it good by taking some initiatives in the interest of public good still remains to be seen.
The Corona virus-beer brand controversy is reminiscent of the Ayds affair in 1996. A diet candy manufacturer called Ayds got into trouble when people started relating it with AIDS. Due to this, Ayds’ sales dropped by a staggering 50%.
But things are not all black. Brands also benefit from controversies.
Starbucks, a popular coffee chain, got free advertising after a coffee cup was spotted in a picture shared by one of the crew during the shoot of a Game of Thrones episode. Later, it turned out that it was not a Starbucks cup, rather it was just a coffee cup. Estimates are that Starbucks got around $2.3bn worth of free advertising and 193,000 worth of mentions in first 48 hours.
While this kind of advertising is totally unintentional, sometimes a brand may gain or lose the market cap depending on the type of reaction it gets from the audience. But one thing is for sure, the brand gets noticed by the people. For better or for worse.