Ad Space: Been a Rough Year for Corona

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
Corona beer

The Promotion:

The Pitch:
We swear, in 2019, this seemed like a good idea.

Okay, we gotta go over some background info here.

For the last few years, beermaker Corona has been sponsoring a “Corona Hotline” during football season, a phone number people could call to hear a message from former quarterback and sports commentator Tony Romo, giving tips on what teams were likely to win and doing some general fan engagement. This was enough of a success, they decided to expand the program into basketball season, with the hotline now helmed by another ex-basketball player, Kenny Smith.

And the commercial they made to advertise this new hotline? It’s decent. It lightly mocks people who get too worked up about their March Madness brackets, with Kenny Smith telling them, “Take your bracket, ball it up, throw it in the trash. Grab yourself a Corona, and enjoy the rest of the games.”

It’s mildly amusing, and certainly advances the type of sports consumption Corona wants (i.e. a pretext for drinking beer). Nothing to make this any worse than any of the previous ads they’ve done for the Corona Hotline …

… except they aired it in March, 2020.

Y’know, when millions of people were calling Coronavirus Hotlines, grappling with a deadly pandemic unprecedented in their lifetimes, looking for answers on what to do. So it’s impossible to watch this ad without imagining someone, worried they have the deadly coronavirus, calling this “Corona Hotline” and hearing Kenny Smith’s oblivious dismissal. Especially when the caller begins crying, and Smith chides them, “There’s no crying on the Corona Hotline!”

It just … it takes on implications so much darker than the intent. And to make matters worse, the ad tells people to “enjoy the rest of the games” the same year all basketball tournaments were canceled thanks to the pandemic. It’s such an outrageously horrible piece of timing … I kinda love it.

They’ve been running the same ad again this year, but luckily for Corona and Kenny Smith, people have mostly switched from calling the disease the coronavirus to calling it Covid, and there’s no sign of basketball being cancelled for the season.