Corona Light Aims Squarely at American Beers in New Campaign

Crown Imports Bows Spots From Goodby as Part of 2012 Marketing Plans

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Does drinking American beer ever get monotonous?

That is essentially the pitch Corona Light is making in a campaign that positions the Mexican import as a "refreshing change" from what the brand is calling "all-too-familiar" brown-bottled domestic brews. The campaign is the first effort for Light by Omnicom Group's Goodby Silverstein & Partners, which won the account late last year.

TV spots show men trudging through consecutive days with the same routine: "Eat, work, gym, shower, bar, beer, sleep..." Things change when they drink Corona Light, with their nights suddenly filled with exciting events such as costume parties and karaoke. "We are trying to get the domestic light drinker to think about his choice and trade up to a Corona Light," said Jim Sabia, exec VP-marketing for Crown Imports, who previewed to Ad Age the importer's 2012 marketing plans for its brands, including Corona Extra, Modelo Especial and Tsingtao.

Corona Light tap handle
Corona Light tap handle

While its flagship Corona Extra still commands the most marketing attention, Crown has tried in recent years to give Light a separate personality as the "social brother" to Extra, which is the largest imported beer in the U.S. Last year, ads moved the Light brand away from is traditional beach imagery in spots by La Comunidad featuring rooftop party scenes.

Imports frequently target domestics, because to grow they must steal share from Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite, which control 35% of the beer category, according to Beer Marketer's Insights. Corona Light, on the other hand, has less than 1% of the light-beer category, according to Crown . (The brand ranks eighth among all imports, according to Beer Marketer's Insights.) But while Light's target is not changing, it is making a more direct appeal. "Our aspiration is to get this a lot bigger, and the way to do that is to try to get all these domestic light users ... to maybe try something different," Mr. Sabia said.

That is of course easier said than done. Crown will be knocking heads with other imported light beers, including Heineken Light, as well as smaller domestic craft beers and even spirits brands, which are increasingly competitive with domestic beers. Part of Crown 's new strategy is to put Corona Light on draft for the first time this year in select markets as a way to raise awareness. The brand is also sponsoring country singer Kenny Chesney's tour this year, a role formerly played by big-brother brand Corona Extra.

Here's what Crown plans for its other big brands:

Corona Extra: Brand agency Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago, will continue the "Find Your Beach" campaign, which is aimed at getting drinkers to think outside of the vacation appeals the brand grew up on. This year's spots are notably more social, featuring groups rather than couples, including one ad staring music group Everest. (See the spot below.)

Modelo Especial: One of the fastest-growing exports, the brand last year moved to Goodby, which is finalizing Modelo's first English-language campaign set to premiere in select markets this year. The goal is to expand the brand beyond its Hispanic base, which accounts for about 80% of volume.

Tsingtao: This Chinese beer was recently assigned to Goodby on a project basis. Though the brand won't get any major media support, Crown plans a push around Chinese New Year. The goal is to build the same kind of buzz during that holiday as Corona gets from Cinco de Mayo.

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