last week social media was abuzz with the “reports” that corona, the beer that i drink when i have too many long islands, was experiencing a financial hit because of the onset of the covid-19 (coronavirus). i wouldn’t be surprised if there was a small segment of the US population who were afraid of drinking corona because the fear around d covid-19, however, sales for the beer brand are actually up 5%. but if sale were down, it would not the be the first time a brand suffered because their name was the same of a pandemic.
ayds, pronounced exactly like AIDS, was a popular appetite suppressant in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. unfortunately, the products name, purpose and marketing strategy proved to be their undoing as the AIDS pandemic grew.
not only was ayds and AIDS phonetically identical, they were both associated with weight loss. however, while the diet supplement was used voluntary weight loss, the massive weight loss experienced by people with living with or dying from complications of AIDS, was associated with sickness, death and quite frankly, punishment. and with hiv stigma and hysteria at its peak, marketing the diet supplement was impossible.
by 1988, 20,786 people had died of AIDS complications. With the country at large beginning to come to grips with the sobering reality of the epidemic, sales for ayds declined. the product would be entirely removed from the market by 1988.