Anheuser-Busch InBev is debuting a non-alcoholic version of Corona beer infused with vitamin D, an industry first that aims to tap into the growing moderation movement and add a dose of bottled sunshine to the winter season.
The concept for Corona Sunbrew 0.0%, which has been two-plus years in the making, originally came from partner David Miami, the creative agency that also handled the launch campaign. The product drops first in Canada, which has been particularly hard hit by the omicron variant of Covid-19 and related lockdowns.
Liquor behemoth AB InBev, which distributes Corona in its native Mexico and global markets outside the U.S., wasn’t interested in launching “just another non-alcoholic beer” but rather a product “with a point of differentiation,” according to Felipe Ambra, Corona’s global vice president.
“Since non-alcoholic beer is growing as a segment, we wanted to address that as a big, commercial opportunity,” Ambra told Adweek. “And we were looking to develop something that’s true to the brand positioning of Corona, which is all about helping people reconnect physically or mentally with nature, the sun and the outdoors.”
Sunshine in a bottle
Low- and no-alcohol beverages are having a moment, and their popularity isn’t a fad, Ambra said. According to IWSR, the category is expected to grow 31% globally by 2024. At the same time, there’s a trend toward functional ingredients in food and drinks, with consumers gravitating to products they believe will boost their health and wellness.
There’s already a non-alcoholic iteration of Corona, called Corona Cero, available in Mexico. But creatives at David Miami suggested during an “evergreen briefing” to add vitamin D as a new twist, Ambra said.
Pancho Cassis, global cco at David, called the project “a true collaborative effort” where “each detail” was special. “It’s not every day that we have the chance to present a product idea and have an innovative client like Corona buy, develop and take it to the next level.”
The formulation hit a number of “technical roadblocks” because vitamin D is sensitive to light and oxygen, two key elements in the beer brewing process, Ambra said. It also doesn’t dissolve well in water, which is a major component in beer.
After more than two years of tinkering, the “crazy ambitious team” came up with a de-alcoholized Corona with 30% of the daily recommended value of vitamin D, according to Canadian standards.
Sunbrew, timed to capitalize on the harsh Canadian winter, will roll out in the U.K. later this year, followed by Europe, South America and Asia.
The campaign, called “Sunshine, Anytime,” features stop-motion animation, sea turtles, surfers and swimmers against a pristine, sun-dappled beach backdrop.
Ambra described the 60-second hero spot, shot in Costa Rica by director Juan Cabral, as “emotional and very functional, a combination that’s really hard to achieve in beer marketing.”