How being named "Corona" has affected Israeli businesses – and people

Not just a beer, but also a restaurant, a wine label, and a moving business.

Some Americans Are Scared to Drink Corona Beer Amid Coronavirus Epidemic
While the word “corona” is on everyone’s mind right now, there are some businesses that aren’t too fond of all the attention – not for fear of contagion, but, rather, because their businesses share the same name as the virus.
The most famous of them is, of course, Mexico’s Corona beer brand – and jokes about the name in the past two months have not stopped, despite reports of steep declines in the product’s recent sales in Israel. Sales have declined 30% in recent weeks, according to beer importer Alex Kearns from Timco Beer in Hod Hasharon.
“The Corona beer crowd is intelligent enough to differentiate between beer and the virus. We don’t feel any influence, and we continue to enjoy everyone’s jokes and humor on the Internet,” said Kearns.
But as mentioned before, it’s not just sales of the brand-name beer that have declined, but also other businesses across the country that have been negatively affected for bearing the weight of the Corona name.
Is it impacting their business?
“Write that we’re considering suing the coronavirus,” joked Eli Cohen, who owns a printing press named Corona in Ra’anana.
The name of the virus hasn’t affected his business either positively or negatively, but has just raised awareness.
“These days anyone who enters jokes and says, ‘Let’s whisper the word “Corona” – we shouldn’t raise our voices.’”
Corona Print Shop (Credit: Courtesy)Corona Print Shop (Credit: Courtesy)
Cohen’s Corona Print Press was established in 1992.
“Before I opened the business, I was a copy machine technician,” he relates. “There is no copier in the world that doesn’t have what’s called the corona wire. It’s a type of conducting wire that charges the drum in copy machines and printers, and when the wire lights up, it produces a charge or aura called corona. My mother is named Bahiya in Arabic, which means crown or aura. I named my daughter Hila [“Aura” in English]. So there’s this wire that produces this aura, as well as the names of my daughter and my mother-in-law, so when I opened my business, I named it Corona.”
Asked what he thought of when the first reports of the virus began to circulate, Cohen responded, “At first I didn’t understand where the name of the virus came from, but then I understood that when looking under a microscope, the shape of a crown is seen.”
“It didn’t hurt our sales, but it amused our customers who are familiar with us. Of course, like everyone else, I follow what’s going on with the coronavirus in the news; like everyone else, I concern myself with global affairs.”
A large Israeli plastic product business called Keter (Hebrew for “Crown”), which sells a brand of garden furniture called Corona, reports that the virus has actually increased sales.
“Pictures of the garden furniture appear whenever someone searched the word ‘corona’ on Google. The seating sets are in thousands of homes in Israel, and because of the Google searches, people are suddenly exposed to the pictures of the garden furniture sets,” a company representative said.
Corona Garden Furniture Set by Keter (Credit: PR)Corona Garden Furniture Set by Keter (Credit: PR)
“Our garden seating sets are sold throughout the year, but there’s been a sudden increase of sales due to the coronavirus outbreak.”
Behind the scenes, it turns out, suggestions were made to change the name of the garden set to something else, such as “Krina” (Hebrew for “Radiation”), but the business refused. “As an old Israeli company, we believe that the name of Keter is stronger than the name Corona. The virus will disappear soon, but the Keter business will be here for many more years.”
Moshe Benin, the owner of Corona Trucking in Even Yehuda, has been going around with the Corona name for years. Before the trucking business was opened in 1988, he owned Corona Aluminum, and Corona Flowers.
“Corona means crown in Russian,” he explained.
“A crown is something that sparkles, something high up, that signifies good quality,” he said. “It’s a catchy word: People remember that name, and when you pick a business name, you need something catchy. If people hear Corona moving vans, they’ll immediately remember it. So far, the name has been successful for me.”
When asked how reactions have been in light of the virus, Benin responded, “When I meet people who aren’t familiar with the business, and they hear me say Corona, they immediately think of the virus. I always explain that it’s not the virus, rather, a business name – and the name sticks in their memories more.”
“In all of my businesses, that name has done well for me. The coronavirus hasn’t done me badly. On the contrary, it’s a name that enters the mind and causes people to remember my business even more. If, for example, my business was called Meir Moving Vans, or Alexander Moving Vans, no one would remember. But Corona Moving Vans [they do],” Benin said.
Shaked, a company that specializes in importing and distributing wines, began importing wine from a winery called Mezzacorona, which was established in 1904. The winery is located at the foot of the Dolomite Mountains in northern Italy, with vineyards spread between Lake Garda and the slopes of the vast mountain range. Its wines, including Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, are marketed both to restaurants and wine stores.
“It’s a wine that sells well today, and the sales will only grow,” says Tal Shaked, the company’s marketing manager. “We don’t see any connection between the label and the virus, and we are sure that there will be no effect on the sales. Because it’s a new wine that we are bringing to Israel, we are holding an organized discussion on the introduction of the wine to the market. The label bearing Corona in the name was one of the issues raised, but there was complete agreement that the relationship was irrelevant. This is an excellent wine that people will enjoy drinking, regardless of the name. But, of course, we would be happy if the name [of the winery, which includes] corona also promotes the business.”
A year and a half ago, a Korona restaurant specializing in Russian food opened in Haifa.
“There was no special reason for the name, said Yaakov, the restaurant’s owner. “It’s just that Korona means crown in Russian. It’s a beautiful word, its icon is cute, and that’s it,” he said.
“The virus having the same name as the restaurant doesn’t really affect the customers. We even laugh at the fact that the name of our restaurant is the most popular and famous in the world today. I’m even thinking of patenting that word!” he joked.
WHAT HAPPENS when its not only a business called Corona, but a person?
Not many countries in the world have people who have the surname Corona, but there are some. And, of course, it’s the subject of many jokes these days.
For example, Maya Corona, 39, said, “A few days ago I went to buy something at the store. The seller asked me what my name was, and I said ‘Maya Corona.’ She looked at me, and I said, ‘Yes, like the virus.’ Then she told me, ‘I have such mercy on you,’ and I was in shock. I didn’t feel like anyone had to feel that way toward me.”
Maya was born in South America; however, the origin of her name is from Poland. “My great-grandfather arrived to Argentina after World War I. Now there is an over-interest in my family. Even coming from people who know me, there are a lot of jokes. I am interested in what’s going on with the virus in the world today, but that [has nothing] to do with my name.”
Ya’akov Corona, 69, from Givatayim, shares a similar experience. “My last name has been passed down from generation to generation in my family, and, from what I understand, the source is from Spain. I was born in Spain, my parents made aliyah [immigrated to Israel] from Poland. Until now, I’ve been used to the name being associated with different businesses around the world – for example, hotels.
“With the eruption of the outbreak of the virus, people who had never heard of my name before – like those whom I told what my name is – suddenly became interested and went wild, and even thought momentarily that I was joking with them,” Corona said.
“Those who already know me tell me that my name is famous all over the world, and ask me if I belch all the time (there’s a superstition that if you belch, someone is thinking of you). I, of course, am following the news, but in my opinion they’ve exaggerated the subject.”
Translated by Celia Jean