How a Mexican Beer Brand Gamed Facebook’s Algorithm for a Good Cause

Estrella Jalisco helped remove derogatory words when searching ‘Mexicans are’

A group of Mexican-American artists created and shared content to support the campaign. - Credit by Estrella Jalisco
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Hearing about a company trying to game the Facebook algorithm usually brings to mind spam and clickbait, but what if the goal was to protect the reputation of an entire nationality of people?

The marketing team at Mexican beer Estrella Jalisco did just that with its “Share for Good” initiative that helped turn around the results generated by Facebook’s search function when users typed, “Mexicans are.”

As recently as Oct. 18, the social network’s search results autopopulated the rest of the query with derogatory words like animals, rapists, drug dealers and lazy.

On. Dec. 1, Facebook users typing “Mexicans are” into Facebook’s search saw terms including inspiring, creative, passionate, caring and great among their autopopulating options.

So how did this happen?

Estrella Jalisco, first brewed in Guadalajara, Jalisco, in 1910 and currently brewed by Anheuser-Busch InBev subsidiary Grupo Modelo in Mexico and imported and licensed in the U.S. by Anheuser-Busch, decided to flip the script. The brand and its agency of record, David the Agency, teamed up with video production company Unicorns and Unicorns to round up a group of Mexican-American artists to create and share content for the cause via 25 Facebook pages, more than 20 groups on the social network and over 20 websites.

Animator Isam Prado, designer Mike Gallegos, filmmaker Jessica Toscano, visual artist Alexandra Velasco and comedian Mattio Martinez created images, memes and videos that highlighted the best qualities of Mexican culture and people, and that content was shared via those pages, groups and sites as well as by influencers.

Estrella Jalisco said two weeks after launching the main Facebook page for the initiative, the page had reached 173,087 people, spurring 15,867 engagements, 415 photo views, 120 comments and 1,609 reactions.

“We didn’t know if it was going to work, but we just loved the idea and felt like we had to do something about it,” Yonathan Bendesky, senior brand director for Anheuser-Busch, Mexican imports, said of the initiative. “The amazing thing about this is just how far a little good can go.”

Bendesky added that he would welcome the opportunity to work with Facebook on “Share for Good,” saying, “We want people to continue to do this, continue to share for good, keep this momentum going—a little bit of good can go a long way.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.