For my Culture Jam Assignment, I chose a billboard advertisement by Corona Extra, a beer whose name is synonymous with Mexican culture. It is available for domestic distribution as well as international export. It is one of the most successful beers worldwide and the top-selling beer in the USA. Even with a wedge of lime, this beer tastes like empty, tasteless calories to some (if not many).
The marketing strategy behind Corona Extra not only equates paradise and pleasure with the consumption of alcohol, but subtlety incorporates the senses to intensify this connection. To extrapolate slightly, “find your beach” suggests that tranquility is exclusively found with consumption. In this example and in virtually all others, the backdrop is of a sandy picturesque beach which effectively circumvents all concern from reality. This consistency cultivates an emotional relationship that appeals to the consumer (Warner, 2007). I think the association between the desire to drink a Corona Extra and the beach environment is so great that any element of the advertisement could elicit a strong craving. Hearing the cyclical sound of waves crashing, feeling sand in your toes, and the warmth and brightness of sun are all cues for grabbing a Corona regardless of the physical environment being attainable. This fabricated scenario excuses the consumer from his or her responsibility and permits them to drink by enforcing that they are deserving of a reward.
My line of reasoning stems from simple logic that I believe enters a Corona Extra consumer’s mind at some stage of their decision to purchase the product:
- What could go wrong on a beach?
- What better time is their to drink than when on vacation?
In order to disseminate the obvious health concerns of excessive alcohol consumption, a mockery of the product name Corona was changed into “Coronary Artery.” This implies the prevalence of coronary heart disease among heavy drinkers. The accompanying text, which was formerly an idealistic motto, has been changed to “clogged.” With excessive consumption, fatty acids build up on the walls of the coronary arteries, increasing the chance of blood clots. If this were a Corona Extra TV commercial where sounds of the waves could be heard crashing, I would modify the noise to be an ECG monitor beeping and eventually flat-lining. Or, I would change the colour of sky to be dark and cloudy to allegorise a consumer’s impending doom. The edits of my subvertisement are subtle text changes to the name of the beer and the motto, and they intend to provide a wrinkle in the previous perfection of the ad. I hoped to evoke some sense of consumer awareness and concern by making one of the potential repercussions visible. It was important for me to do so abruptly, because this advertisement does an exceptional job at brainwashing the consumer.
While other alcohol companies often aggressively target their consumers, Corona passively allows their demographic to regress to their lazy, pleasure-seeking selves. I don’t think the term “less is more” has ever more effectively personified their marketing strategies. Being minimal has universalized their target audience and they have avoided public scrutiny and criticism from being bold. Yet, this product enjoys being the top-selling imported beer in the USA. To me, the main problem that exists in this advertisement is that it is likely to go unnoticed by the general public. It doesn’t excite an immediate impulse, but it is subconsciously intertwined with so many people’s interpretations of relaxation and being free from concern.
Warner, J. (2007). Political culture jamming: The dissident humor of “The daily show with Jon Stewart”. Popular Communication, 5(1), 17-36.