Modelo Communication Overview
Overview of the Company
Modelo was formed in 1925 in Tacuba, Mexico. It based its beers off of traditional German style brews, creating Modelo Especial. Modelo aims to be a high quality, honest beer that takes pride in its heritage. Modelo products are a section of Grupo Modelo, which owns brands such as Corona, Victoria, and Pacifico (Grupo Modelo, 2018). The parent company of Grupo Modelo is Anheuser-Busch InBev, which owns multiple beer subsidiaries. In the 90 plus years since Modelo’s creation, it has greatly expanded its line of products and its audience.
Modelo currently produces three distinct lines of beer for consumers, most of which feature a bottle shape distinct from other common beers. The flagship beer is the oldest product, Modelo Especial. This beer is a pilsner style lager with a golden hue. The second product is a Munich style dark lager called Modelo Negra. And finally the third and more recently developed product is Modelo’s Chelada beer. This beer is more closely tied to the brands Mexican heritage and has flavors of tomato, salt, and lime (Modelo, 2018).
Modelo traditionally exclusively marketed itself purely to the Hispanic market. It was not until 2015 that Modelo Especial released a mainstream campaign to appeal to a broader audience. The company noticed that, despite being the fastest growing beer brand in America, nearly 40% of consumers still did not recognize the brand when presented a comprehensive list of beer brands. Modelo continues to appeal to a broader market and is partnered with La Comunidad agency (Modelo, 2018).
Strategic Communication Audit
Modelo is proud of their Mexican heritage. Upon entering their official site, the visitor is met with multiple indicators that Modelo is a Mexican product. Many of the headers featured on their website incorporate elements of Mexican culture. For instance, since Cinco de Mayo is less than a month away, the second header on the website captions “Discover the Sabor of Cinco de Mayo.” This is paired with a graphic displaying their products as if they were made of mosaic tiles. If one clicks on the link, they are met with an accurate history of the holiday, as well as ways to celebrate Mexican art, food, and drink.
The Cinco de Mayo page is also interwoven with what appears to be a newer branding move for Modelo. The company has aligned itself with those that have a “fighting spirit.” Modelo understands that everyone is fighting for something. They state that, it does not matter where you are from, but what you are made of. The fighting spirit helps you rise above obstacles and pave the way for others. This branding allows Modelo to create communication that is more inclusive, and allows it to expand to a wider audience.
Modelo has launched multiple initiatives to bolster the idea of the fighting spirit. There is a teaser on their website that introduces the Fighting Spirit Cause Initiative. There are very limited details regarding what this initiative will accomplish. Therefore much of the following is pure speculation. The teaser states that the Fighting Spirit Cause Initiative is Modelo’s way to level the playing field for opportunity by providing access to resources and empowerment to communities. This clearly indicates that Modelo is working on a new CSR campaign that will be announced soon. It does not appear that Modelo itself has had any previous CSR campaigns under its domain before. However, Grupo Modelo has had multiple CSR initiatives under its domain, from helping communities to sustainability efforts (Grupo Modelo, 2018).
In the spirit of their fighting spirit, Modelo is also the official beer sponsor of the UFC. The website features a video interview with UFC President Dana White discussing how he had to fight to build up UFC into what it is today. It is hard to tell where the UFC partnership fits with reaching their target audience. It is unclear if this was a move to attract their Hispanic audience or if it was another attempt to reach a wider audience. The UFC does not appear to have widely available demographic information regarding their fan base, which would make it easier to find the purpose of the initiative.
Modelo’s digital strategy covers all major avenues of digital outlets. From their website users can register to receive emails directly from the company. One can assume this works in a similar way to many other companies, in which users that sign up receive promotional information and occasional special offers from the company. Modelo USA also has an official Facebook page. The majority of their posts surround their partnership with the UFC with other supplemental posts centered on holidays. Much of the Instagram and Tumblr content seems to be cross posted from Facebook, with the exception of a focus on food that pairs well with Modelo. Tumblr also makes use of more GIF’s, which are more common place on this social media outlet. The Modelo USA Twitter page revealed more information regarding the potential Fighting Spirit Cause. Twitter contains posts that invite people to share their stories and potentially win 15K for a charity of their choice. Though it is not explicitly stated, this contest will likely come into play with their future CSR initiative. Other than the contest, the posts on Twitter mirror those of the other Modelo social media outlets.
Overall the social media of Modelo USA seems to be lacking in the amount of Mexican or Mexican American culture. However, Modelo’s commercial advertisement spots seem to do quite the opposite. For instance, one advertisement from 2017 features Juan Rodriguez-Chavez who immigrated to the United States and became a decorated US military veteran. Another features the story of astronaut Jose Hernandez. The tagline for both commercials is “It doesn’t matter where you came from, it matters what you’re made of” (Ads of the World, 2018). These commercials have an appeal for both the Hispanic market and the broader market. For the Hispanic market, it shows potential role models for the Mexican American community. For the wider audience it seems to play on the American dream concept, which despite being very controversial, can motivate some audiences to see the product in better light. The tag line also makes a subtle jab at the current political climate regarding immigrants in America, essentially stating that some of the negative views towards immigrants are far from accurate. This subtle political statement and the celebration of successful Mexican Americans help reinforce the brand identity of the fighting spirit.
Evaluation of Cultural Relevance
Modelo is doing a decent job communicating to their audience, however they could be doing better. It seems as though Modelo is hesitant to fully commit to expressing their Mexican heritage; especially through social media. One area that is of interest is how the company uses language. The company uses Spanish for their products labeling, and occasionally implements Spanish words mixed with English on their site. Using a mix of Spanish and English capitalizes on the appeal of using a mixed or hybrid dialect. It helps to reinforce the products heritage, and set itself apart from other beers within the US. The posts on Modelo’s social media seemed to lack in utilization of the mixed dialect. Often times Hispanic audiences will switch between English and Spanish to convey greater emotion (Chapa & Korzenny, 2017, p.138). Given that the social media environment is typically centered on user’s emotions, it is strange that Modelo has not made use of language in a way that supports this.
Modelo does do a great job at using their communications as a teaching tool to clear up common misconceptions surrounding aspects of Mexican culture that some in their audience might not be familiar with. For instance, one social media post encourages the audience to learn more about the tradition of piñatas. Another post shares recipes for traditional Mexican dishes. This is clearly a move aimed at targeting a more mainstream audience. Modelo is communicating from the opposite spectrum when compared to many of the examples of products that have been explored in the Korzenny book. It is a Hispanic product attempting to appeal to the mainstream audience, instead of the mainstream product attempting to appeal to the Hispanic audience. Therefore, through its communications, it is attempting to aid in the acculturation process of mainstream Americans into Hispanic culture. Acculturation is the process of adopting the attitudes and values, and behaviors of a new culture (Chapa & Korzenny, 2017, p.183). Modelo is attempting to share the heritage it hails from with a mainstream audience that may not have had much formal exposure to the culture. Little pieces of knowledge absorbed from social media can expand the audience’s horizon, and peak further interest in the culture.
The commercial advertisement spots highlight the mutual cultural exchange through the story of immigrants that found success in the US. The idea of the fighting spirit is exemplified in these individuals because they adapted to a new culture and flourished in it. This is atypical of the immigrant experience in the US. Therefore, it is more of an aspirational appeal. It is a reminder for both the Hispanic and mainstream audience that Mexican Americans can do great things in this country if they fight for it. Whether or not it only takes a fighting spirit to be successful is up for debate, but it is still certainly an emotionally appealing story.
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Korzenny, F., Chapa, S., & Korzenny (2017). Hispanic marketing: The power of the new Latino consumer. London: Routledge.
Modelo. (2018, 4 11). Retrieved from ModeloUSA: