No, Corona Beer Has Nothing to Do with the Coronavirus

updated Feb 28, 2020
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In a meme making its way around the internet, a dozen Heineken bottles wearing a facemask keep their distance from a bottle of Corona beer. Of course, the Corvid-19 illness, threatening the world with a pandemic and often called coronavirus, doesn’t have anything to do with the Mexican beer made by Constellation Brands. But that hasn’t stopped folks from associating the two similarly-named things, reports Eater.

The root of the two names is the same: Corona is the Spanish word for crown, and the Latin root gave its name to the illness in the 1960s because it has a “crown” of proteins. There are many different strains of coronavirus (including SARS and MERS), but the worldwide panic began before this one took on a new name. Scientists now call it Covid-19.

Even if people adapt to the new name, for Corona beer, the damage may already be done: Eater reports that searches for “corona beer virus” spiked last month, and a phone survey found that 38% of Americans wouldn’t buy Corona because of the outbreak. 

It’s poor timing for Constellation Brands, as it is in the middle of launching a new product — hard seltzer — and some social media users have seen the ads for “one splashy entrance” and “coming ashore soon,” as in poor taste.

Given the beer’s long tradition of beach references in branding, this seems a stretch, but so would people thinking the beer was in any way related to the virus, so there’s no ruling anything out these days. Mostly, it seems to be an unfortunate coincidence, but one that Corona, a long-lived brand that is part of a large corporation, seems likely to outlast.