Mexican beer brand Corona has long been associated with the ocean and beach life. But pollution puts those areas increasingly under threat. That's the inspiration for this unusual event the brand recently held in Mexico — the "Plastic Fishing Tournament."
The contest, created by advertising agency We Believers, challenged local fishermen to go out to seas not to catch fish, but to retrieve plastic waste. During the event, 80 fisherman competed to make the "biggest catch" and together hauled in more than 3 tons of plastic garbage.
Corona is owned by AB InBev in Mexico while Constellation owns the beer's distribution rights in the U.S. The brand has had a long-standing priority to fighting plastic pollution on shores, but for this campaign, We Believers had proposed that the brand go deeper, all the way into the oceans, with the cleanup.
"Especially in Mexico, the combination of plastic pollution in the oceans and overfishing directly affect small local fishing communities," says Gustavo Lauria, co-founder of We Believers. "When fishermen turn to the ocean, they find way more plastic than fish, and the fish they catch are way smaller than those they captured a decade ago. That's how we connected the dots to encourage them to collect plastic instead of fish, creating a new source of income for their communities."
The winner of the tournament pulled in nearly 815 pounds of plastic the day of the contest, earning 14,800 pesos, the equivalent of a month of wages from fishing at the usual rates in the area.
The other contestants, however, didn't go away empty handed. Corona hooked them up with the country's largest recycling company, Mexico Recicla, who compensated them for their hauls at rates higher than those they would be paid for fish.
According to Lauria, Mexico Recicla will be upcycling the retrieved plastic into tools that fishermen use on a daily basis. The company is also currently in discussions with the fisherman to formalize how they can continue to work together in the longer term.
Lauria adds that other Mexican fishing communities got word of the tournament and have been reaching out to Corona bring the contest idea to their areas, so the brand is looking to continue the idea in other markets for the rest of the year and into 2022.