Corona is getting flak on social media for an ill-timed "coming ashore soon" campaign for its hard seltzer.
A promotional post on Twitter earlier this week shows four cans of the hard seltzer on a beach and the words “Coming ashore soon.” The post was panned for being in poor taste as fears of the Coronavirus escalate.
The Mexican beer brand is being damaged by name association with deadly virus, according to new surveys. The brand's new seltzer campaign comes as a patient in California has been identified as the first to be infected through community spread in the United States.
Constellation Brands will continue the marketing push for its new Corona Hard Seltzer despite the social media blowback, Corona's parent company told USA TODAY. Last month Constellation Brands said it would spend more than $40 million to market its four new seltzer flavors.
Spokeswoman Maggie Bowman said the campaign is based off "strong consumer sentiment" and consistent with campaigns the company has been running for the last 30 years.
"While we empathize with those who have been impacted by this virus and continue to monitor the situation, our consumers, by and large, understand there’s no linkage between the virus and our business," Bowman said.
Public sentiment is shifting as people associate Coronavirus with Corona beer, according to a new survey from New York City-based 5W Public Relations.
The agency's survey, released Thursday, asked 737 American beer drinkers' opinions about the Corona beer brand with the coronavirus spreading.
It found 38% of beer-drinking Americans would not buy Corona under any circumstances now and 16% said they were confused about whether Corona beer is related to the coronavirus.
And the intent to purchase among adults in the U.S. has slid to its lowest point in two years, according to YouGov Plc, which released results of another survey Wednesday.
Constellation stock sunk nearly 8% in after-hours trading Thursday.
“There is no question that Corona beer is suffering because of the coronavirus. Could one imagine walking into a bar and saying 'Hey, can I have a Corona?'" Ronn Torossian, founder and CEO of 5WPR, said in a statement. “While the brand has claimed that consumers understand there's no linkage between the virus and the beer company, this is a disaster for the Corona brand. After all, what brand wants to be linked to a virus which is killing people worldwide?”
According to 5W's report, there has been an uptick in searches for “corona beer virus” and “beer coronavirus” over the past few weeks based on information from SEMrush, a trends data provider, and multiple media reports.
In reference to the survey, Bowman said there's misinformation being shared "that doesn’t match consumer behavior" and said Corona sales "continue to be strong."
"By and large, our consumers understand there’s no linkage between the virus and our beer business," Bowman said.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko