In the 1980s, drinking beer was a different experience today. Bars dedicated exclusively to microbreweries of the geographical region? Garage Nanoprodutores? Do little of IPA because “fashion has passed, I prefer sour”? Growlers? This is a reality of the years 2010 (and, increasingly, not only of the big urban centers). Even in the United States, where the so-called brewing revolution began in the 1970s, the daily beer brew was much simpler, with a scenario dominated by major brands and an almost total ignorance of craft beers. And beauty.
Not that the market was total marasm. In 1981, a Mexican brand landed in the country and conquered more and more people with its sunny and sunny marketing. The Corona, produced by the Modelo Group (which now integrates the brewing leviathan AB InBev) appealed to a hypothetical surfer spirit, Californian, with Mexican charm citrically represented in the lemon in the mouth of the bottle – although this is another export marketing strategy of the that a tradition in Mexico. * In any case, it was a success, which began to threaten the leader par excellence among the imported US, the Dutch Heineken.
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The Corona had everything, but in 1987 , its luck turned. Shops began to dispense with it and consumers to boycott it. That’s because a rumor spread almost like fake news on Facebook: Mexicans would be urinating on the bottles exported to the US. The story would have been revealed in the traditional 60 Minutesprogram , and it was so big that in some cities sales plummeted almost 80%. Learn: What are fake news and how to identify them?
Barton Beers, the distributor of Corona in the country, decided to investigate the origin of the rumor, and ended up discovering that who began to spread the story was Luce and Son, just one of the retailers that marketed Heineken to the Americans. Corona filed a lawsuit claiming $ 3 million, but the companies closed an out-of-court settlement: Luce and Son had to state publicly, “No, the Crown is not contaminated with urine.”
Only the damage was done. Like so many fake news, this spread easily anchored in the credibility of 60 Minutes : CBS network, owner of the program, reported that 60 Minutes had not talked about beer in the past four years. Few bothered to check whether the news was real or not, and the rumor ran the US from coast to coast. Bad fame clung to the image of the Crown as the acrid smell that some alleys and sidewalks acquire at the expense of the empty bladders in the Carnival.
The Corona decided to treat the subject openly with the press, and it took years of demystifying articles until the story faltered. But as the site Atlas Obscurarecalled , even today the Urban Dictionary , which proposes to dictate modern expressions, explains that “Mexican millet” is the pejorative term to refer to the Corona because it is a relatively uncorrupted beer .
You can be a fan of Heineken and / or Corona or none of them or any beer in general. It does not matter here. What matters is that this history left, at the time, the prejudiced stereotype of the Mexican. And what she can tell us today is that fake news can do real damage – and that we do not need social networks for that.
(Wanted, Heineken and AmBev, through their respective press offices, chose not to comment on the matter.)