Consumers don’t want to be interrupted by advertising anymore. They want to be part of the conversation.
Corona’s global marketing team is rebuilding its strategy around that insight with the launch of Corona Studios on Monday, an in-house production facility focused on creating quality entertainment at a regular pace.
Corona Studios will operate globally under Anheuser-Busch InBev, the brand’s parent company outside of the U.S. - Constellation Brands owns Corona in the U.S.
The studio launches with a new original series called Free Range Humans, which follows eight individuals who left behind their white-collar jobs to pursue a life of outdoor adventure, such as Brazilian PR-associate-turned-surfer Bruna Bessa, and English architect-turned ocean advocate Emily Penn. The show is AB InBev’s first global content franchise.
“When we look at the way the world is evolving, we need to start entertaining instead of interrupting consumers,” said Felipe Ambra, global VP of Corona. “That's the biggest challenge marketers face: engaging consumers in an authentic way.”
The series, which will run as six to 10 minute episodes on Corona’s global social channels, are true to the brand’s brand ethos of living life outside -- preferably by the beach.
“Our entire brand is built around the reality that we spend 90% of our lives stuck inside,” said Chris Jones, global marketing director at Corona. “We believe being out in nature is where we experience the best version of ourselves.”
To create the series, Corona worked with Wieden+Kennedy, which developed the concept, and Pereira O’Dell, which set the format and ran casting, production and a remote global shoot in partnership with Rocket Films.
The team spent five months interviewing 400 to 500 potential cast members who were not just genuinely committed to an off-the-beaten-path lifestyle, but also had stories that would resonate with a global audience.
“We wanted people who realized the opportunity to live life outdoors and flipped the equation,” Ambra said. “They faced challenges, but they authentically said this is the way of living I want to pursue for the rest of my life.”
Free Range Humans will serve as a test case for a broader thesis at Corona around operating more like a publisher in its marketing approach. Corona Studios already releases short films on a weekly basis from a network of creators and filmmakers around the world, but the brand wants to start operating more heavily in the entertainment space as consumers continue to tune out traditional advertising.
For season one of Free Range Humans, Corona will measure views in the short term and brand meaning long term. If the show takes off, it plans to move ahead with season two, and release up to two more original series next year.
The idea is, rather than interrupting consumers, to create “rich, story-led content on a high frequency basis that connects audiences with our passion points,” Jones said, while “being calculated in how we invest and pursue original content and IP.”
“Oftentimes brands invest a ton of resources into things people don't want from them,” Jones said. “Our intention is to learn how to do this the right way, but our ambitions are there to go bigger. We see a future where this is a proper business unit and we can monetize content through licensing and other ways.”
But, given the amount of quality content consumers have to choose from today, Corona won’t just rely on organic views to meet its goals.
“This is a game of paid views,” Ambra said. “The quality is higher and they will be consuming more [content], but it's still a game of paid media.”