“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
These famous lines by Juliet for Romeo, who could not marry her because he was a “Montague” – the name of the rival family. Romeo, out of his passion for Juliet, rejects his family name and vows, as Juliet asks, to “deny (his) father” and instead be “new baptized” as Juliet’s lover.
If Juliet would read this note, she would realize that she is alluding to an unfortunate case of Homonymy
Have Homonyms impacted Brands or have brands followed Romeo’s cues and renamed themselves? Can you think of a brand that has the same name as something that is a common speak these days?
Unless you are hiding in a cave and the only thing you read is this blog, you would have guessed it – the ‘crowned’ barley malt from Mexico!
Have you wondered what would have happened to the Corona beer because of its ‘namesake’ virus? How do you think its sales would have moved – up or down?
Interestingly, in 1997, the sales of the Mars chocolate bar increased unexpectedly. This surprised the company as it had not started any new marketing campaigns. Neither had it changed any of its marketing campaigns nor increased its investment in advertising. The marketing team was baffled as they were unable to find the reason for the increase in sales of their product!
Reason – the same year, NASA launched Pathfinder – a mission to Mars! Mars said worldwide sales of Mars bars began climbing a year ago with the debate about life on the distant planet, even though the bar is named not for the planet but for company founder Franklin Mars.
Did History repeat itself in 2020?
Corona, meaning crown, has had a positive connotation till the virus with the crown-like spikes on its surface was discovered and infected the branding done around the ‘crown’ till now.
In the case of Constellation Brands (owner of Corona beer), while there was a lot of negative PR generated about massive losses for the company and consumer aversion to trying, the CEO claimed that the sales had actually gone up and was not negatively impacted. He also clarified all misconceptions related to the brand.
5W, the public relations firm that released the survey of 737 US beer drinkers, also found that 16 percent were confused about whether Corona beer is related to the virus.
“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,” Ronn Torossian, founder and CEO of 5W.
Brand experts also suggested Corona makers a strong creative campaign to distance themselves from the Coronavirus. Somehow, someone in the marketing team got super excited and the brand launched a new advertising campaign to plug new hard seltzer offerings in the United States. Big Mistake!
According to a viral twitter post on Corona USA, the beverages, available in four “delicious” flavors, will be “coming ashore soon“. As a result, the brand got an earful on social media and negative criticism. It seemed to be in “remarkably poor taste” according to critics!
Adding all this up, the ‘buzz score’ (good or bad impressions of the brand) on the public opinion site YouGov plunged from 75% in January to 51% in February.
Another reason for the drop in purchase intent could be the perception of Corona as a summer beverage associated with beach holidays, but it’s just another assumption!
As of April first week, while the company has halted production in Mexico due to halting of all non-essential production, its sales in US has grown by 10% in JFM quarter, as per the company’s earnings call – it even claims to have enough supplies in US to address the demand.
So if you are getting tired of hearing about Covid or Corona (virus), just grab a bottle of Corona (beer) and gulp it down to bliss!
Corona is not the first brand to be impacted. Incidentally, there have been brands that had to either face the flak or change their brand name – see the names below and you would surely realize how much pain simple homonymy could cause for brands. These include Soda called Sars, a chocolate brand called Isis, another chocolate called Ayds.
Closer home, Homonymy was used by Cricketers as well. Restaurants named after cricketers have been in vogue – the most prominent one (Cricketer) has been Sachin Tendulkar and his ventures, Sachin’s and Tendulkar’s. He partnered with celebrity hotelier Sanjay Narang, and his first eatery was named ‘Tendulkar’s’. Soon after, he opened another one, ‘Sachin’s’, in Mumbai and Bengaluru.
Although the cricketing star took a keen interest in setting up the ventures, he did not taste success and had to eventually shut down both by 2007. Experts believe that People expect a larger-than-life delivery and it doesn’t happen as a restaurant is a restaurant.
Who was the other investor in these – Sanjay Narang, President of Mars Hotels.
If the Goddess of Homonymy was to bless him, maybe Mr. Narang should have thought of opening these in 1997!