CSR case study: Budweiser tackles drink driving with man’s best friend

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Continuing the success of its Super Bowl ‘Puppy Love’ commercial, this Budweiser’s corporate social responsibility campaign carried another canine theme... and a powerful anti-drink drive message that got 20 million views within a month.

The YouTube ad, called ‘Friends Are Waiting’, features a man heading out with some friends and a six-pack of beer, while a dog waits for his beloved owner to return.

The screen ominously tells us that "the waiting never ended" for some canines, whose masters made the irresponsible decision to drive drunk.

But this puppy is lucky after his 20-something owner returns in the morning. Instead of driving home, he apparently was coaxed by his friends into sleeping it off. So he arrives home safe the next morning, to his dog's delight.

The ad's happy jingle — "A lifetime is not long enough, to show you what you mean to me ... " — turns to a sad strumming of the guitar as we see the dog whimpering, wondering when his friend will come home.

"Make a plan to make it home. Your friends are counting on you," the spot says at the end.
The video has already racked up more than 15 million views since it was posted to YouTube on Friday in honor of the brand's Global Be(er) Responsible Day.

The ad squarely targets the 21- to 27-year-old Millennial whose single mission in life is to share content with friends on social media. The ad is trending under #FriendsAreWaiting.

Analysis: Putting the ‘social’ into corporate responsibility

Consumer brands are really stepping-up in their corporate social responsibility messaging, and looking for the best ways to land it through digital. Social responsibility has moved from the edge of marketing to the heartland, as brands fight for differentiation. In many market segments, the brand’s story is a key part of what millenials are looking for, and social responsibility is a way of bringing that to life.

Budweiser has found a powerful way to marry up a tough social responsibility message while retaining its brand values and its tone of voice. Films are the key currency in marketing consumer packaged goods and the tone of voice, the richness of the imagery, and the brand values all shine through.

“In the consumer sector Unilever has led the field, taking this much further”, explains Danny Meadows-Klue, head of the Digital Strategy Consulting group that helps brands use digital channels to land their CSR messages. “Unilever has woven a social purpose into the DNA of hundreds of brands in an approach that their CMO Keith Weed describes as a new era for the role of brands. This is a game-changer, appealing to the head and the heart, and backing up their claims and ideals with massive shifts in the way their products work and their roles in people’s lives”.

Cynics who might think this is window dressing should take a look at how Unilever’s product innovation approach has been refocused on some of the toughest sustainability challenges such as reducing the environmental footprint, reducing water consumption, reducing packaging etc. Beyond product development their supply chain is also tooling up for new approaches, and many brands are putting social causes into the heart of their communications in the way Dove started over a decade ago with their Campaign for Real Beauty.

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