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When ‘Corona de Mayo’ Takes On New Meaning

It’s Cinco de Mayo. A time when friends and families normally gather together for good times, chips with guacamole and Corona beer with a wedge of lime. Now get-togethers must be virtual, and the Corona name is forever linked with a deadly pandemic, similarly named for its crown shape.

Is the Corona brand strong enough to withstand this twist of fate? It would seem so, because in 2019, Corona ranked #70 on the Forbes list of leading brands,1 and it reports that its sales are still strong. However, Corona’s situation makes you think about what you would do if your brand was suddenly confronted by an unfortunate, unanticipated situation. 

There are lessons to be learned about brand crisis management from other leading organizations that overcame adverse situations of their own.

When teens started taking the “Tide Pod Challenge”…Proctor & Gamble (P&G) found an influencer to convince them to stop.
Some time around December of 2017, teenagers seeking celebrity status thought it would be funny to dare one another to consume Tide Pods (laundry detergent packets), videotape and post the challenges on social media. One of the actions P&G took was to launch a social media campaign, recruiting NFL tight end Rob Gronkowski to influence teens to stop with the message, “What the heck is going on, people?”2

When seven people died from consuming cyanide laced Tylenol…Johnson & Johnson (J&J) took control of the narrative.
Between September 29th and October 1st of 1982, seven individuals in the Chicago area died after taking Extra-Strength Tylenol that had been tampered with and laced with poison. J&J reacted swiftly, by setting up a task force to address the issue, alerting the public to stop using the product and conducting one of the first wide-spread recalls in consumer history. It used paid media and PR to take control of the narrative and made it known it was putting customer safety first. Then J&J put its engineers to work to develop tamper resistant packaging.3

When Jack Pearson’s character died from a faulty Crock-Pot® …Newell Brands showed empathy but defended its product with facts.
Season 2 Episode 13 of NBC’s drama, “This Is Us,” aired on January 23, 2018, less than two weeks before Super Bowl LII. The episode, entitled “That’ll Be the Day,” was a flashback revealing that beloved character Jack Pearson died after Super Bowl Sunday, 1998 from a house fire caused by a Crock-Pot. After countless viewers threatened to throw away their Crock-Pots, Newell Brands reacted with empathy and humor saying they, too, were devastated by Jack’s death. Jack himself (actor Milo Ventimiglia) personally apologized to Crock-Pot during a Super Bowl spot. Newell Brands also provided reassurances on #CrockPotIsInnocent, explaining that the low voltage appliances were safe and the type of accident portrayed in the episode was nearly impossible.4

What would you do if your brand became threatened?
With the daily social media usage of internet users around the globe averaging 114 minutes per day,5 news travels fast. It’s best to be ready with a team and plan so you can react quickly and stay in control of your message.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for some inspiration on how to spend a fun, but safe and socially distanced Cinco de Mayo, try some of these activities:

Although crises like the ones above are unlikely to impact your firm, it pays to be prepared. Optima Group can help you address a range of brand challenges, from a refresh to a reboot, and can help you communicate effectively in good times, as well as in challenging periods.  

1 The World’s Most Valuable Brands 2019 Ranking, Forbes,
2 Tide unleashes its secret weapon against the Tide Pod Challenge: Gronk, PR Week, January 16, 2018,
3 Crisis Communication Strategies, Case Study: The Johnson & Johnson Tylenol Crisis, U.S. Department of Defense
4 Croc-Pot’s Response to Its Tragic Role in ‘This Is Us’ Is a Lesson in Smart PR, Inc., January 29, 2018,
5 Daily time spent on social networking by internet users worldwide from 2012 to 2019, © statista 2020