Say this for a brand whose iconic slogan is “Find Your Beach”: It’s bold enough to hatch a new campaign that finds former NFL star Tony Romo sitting at a desk fielding questions.
Not exactly an image that conjures up romantic visions of relaxation with an icy-cold bottle of Corona Extra, sitting in an easy chair gazing out at the ocean. That was the original positioning, repeated in various ways for years, that vaulted the Constellation Brands-owned Mexican beer to the top of the category.
And Corona is at the pinnacle. As sales of traditional brands such as Budweiser and Miller Lite have faded with adventurous millennials, and even craft-beer sales have leveled off, Corona continues to pile on year-over-year sales increases. It has become America’s best-selling imported beer brand and one of the top sellers in the country overall.
“It’s a little bit of a misnomer to think that the growth in the beer category, to the extent that there is any, is coming from imports” from around the globe, said Constellation’s CEO Robert Sands, on an investor conference call last year. “It is not. It is coming from Constellation’s portfolio of Mexican beers.”
Since acquiring the US rights to Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Mexican beers in a $5-billion-plus deal in 2013, Constellation has made Corona the kingpin of its growth strategy that used to rely on wine brands. Product-wise, that has meant, for example, launching a new version of Corona this year called Corona Premier as well as rolling out a product called Corona Familiar in major Hispanic markets, which have become a key demographic for the brand.
Boosting marketing expenditures, while maintaining its creative edge, also has been key as Constellation continues to build the Corona franchise. In 2014, for instance, it added to its “traditional” scenes of beach serenity by depicting beaches in unusual places, such as a city bar, an urban rooftop and a snowy mountaintop—creating the idea that a “beach” can be a state of mind complemented by a Corona anywhere, not just on a tropical shore.
Last year, Corona launched an immersive virtual-reality experience that encouraged consumers to reconnect with nature and the outdoors. And its latest TV campaign, for Corona Extra, saw Romo replace fellow NFL icon Jon Gruden—who’s now back coaching with the Oakland Raiders—as the face of the fan-favorite Corona Hotline. Romo now is a TV analyst of football telecasts.
Fans “can call the Corona Hotline all season long to tap into Romo’s renowned powers of prediction, hear game-day reflections and enter for a chance to win prizes” such as Corona gear, the brand said in a press release.
“I am ready to help fans deal with the highs and lows of this football season, so they can kick back and enjoy with friends and family,” Romo said. So if you’re a Corona drinker, even a big-screen TV showing an NFL game on Sunday afternoon can be, in some ways, a beach.