Corona Bottles Vanish From Ads to Encourage Recycling

A negligible step for humans, a gargantuan monster-stride for a brand

To promote recycling, David's São Paulo and Bogotá offices have created "Coronaless," which is running in Europe and Latin America.

The campaign's billboards and online media reflect pretty standard Corona fare: exotic locales, time with friends or romantic partners. But the Coronas which should be hanging from loose wrists, or firmly embedded in the sand like stalwart pals, are nowhere to be found, leaving indentations and empty lobster-grips where bottles should appear.

The copy reads: "We returned the bottle of this ad. Return yours."

There's no small degree of virtue signaling here: Hey, we pulled up our bootstraps. How about you do your part?

Having suffered through hours of excruciating pack-shot conversations in the production phase of advertising, we get that it's a big deal for a brand to "take the risk" of not showing its product. Marketers are obsessed with themselves, trying to make the most of every moment—no second of eyeball time wasted, as if any lost opp could lead to collective, irreversible consumer amnesia.

When we initially looked at this campaign, we thought Corona was trying to say its bottles could be returned for reuse. That would've been admirable. It implies local buy-in, and means a bunch of glass doesn't have to be broken down to make the same thing it was already. This would save time, energy and money.

Instead, this work is just about "[encouraging] people to dispose of empty Corona packaging correctly, without polluting beaches and oceans," according to the press release.

This campaign is running in Germany, Uruguay and Brazil. Germany is among the most mindful nations from a recycling perspective, so why they'd need a reminder to recycle we don't know. Uruguay has an informal recycling sector; Brazil recycles just 1 percent of waste. In the latter two cases, recycling is not an easily available choice. (And even when it is, that doesn't mean recycling is working as it should.)

People reuse stuff around their houses all the time. But brands have historically made it nigh-on impossible to reuse or refill anything they repeatedly sell us. It's tolerated, like a charming character quirk. Facilitated reuse is the one place Corona could be helpful if it's that worried about polluted beaches (never mind that glass is the least of a beach's pollution problems; it eventually becomes sand again). 

Reuse is something brands can encourage without having to get involved with politicians. Corona could work with existing distributors, maybe get other companies involved to incentivize people to bring stuff back. That's some sound circular economy stuff. You feel like you're part of a community that's doing something, with brands leading the charge. But it's usually local brands that initiate acts like this, rather than global conglomerates, which makes the missed opportunity for true virtue all the more flagrant.

Recycling, on the other hand, is an infrastructure issue, not something average folks can control most of the time. Passing the buck to them, and so smugly, feels distasteful. What's more, we're well past the point when encouraging people to recycle feels like the move. We have entered the midnight of climate change, where no amount of individual recycling will compensate for indifferent government policy and relentless corporate lobbying.

The level, degree and scope of wasteful production we're dealing with is bigger than a bunch of Brazilians buying six-packs for a Saturday afternoon. This feels like relatively common knowledge now, and one of the unfortunate reasons why the trouble we're in feels like such a stranglehold.

In case you're looking for inspiration, Corona, here's a Toronto-based beer shop that explains its entire bottle-reuse infrastructure. Take notes!

More campaign images below. Click to enlarge:


Agency: DAVID São Paulo, DAVID Bogotá

Campaign: Coronaless

Client: ABI

Product: Corona

Partner and Global CCO: Pancho Cassis

Global COO: Sylvia Panico

ECD: Edgard Gianesi, Renata Leão

Creative Director: Fabrício Pretto, Rogério Chaves

Art Director: Felipe Revite

Copywriter: Filipe Rosado

Account: Juan Pablo Garcia, Catalina Cordoba, Amanda Mezejewski

Production team: Fernanda Peixoto, Ana Marques, Mariana Marinho, Letícia Brito

Global PR Director: Sandra Azedo

Production Company: Sicarios

Photographer: Thierry des Fontaines

Executive Producer: João Luz

Line Producer: Rafa Pinto

Operations: Lindin Lima

Photography assistant: Ícaro Torres Correia, Artur Leite

Account: Babi Kosloff, Ju Bahia, Yuri Fuly

Editor: Sicarios, Juary Leocardio


Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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