Promoting responsible consumer enjoyment of our brands and reducing alcohol abuse and misuse is fundamental to Brown-Forman and is essential to our purpose of enriching the experience of life. As one of the largest American-owned spirits and wine companies and one of the top 10 global spirits companies, we have a strong interest in contributing to a culture of responsible consumption, which we take very seriously. It is in the interest of our business, and of society, that we play an active role in encouraging responsible alcohol consumption.
Beverage alcohol, consumed in moderation, can make social occasions more enjoyable. However, when consumed irresponsibly, in excess, or by people susceptible to addiction, alcohol can lead to damaging consequences for individuals, their families, and our communities. Our work to support a culture of alcohol responsibility extends from our own employees to our customers, consumers, business partners, stakeholders, and society at large.
Our tradition of leadership in alcohol responsibility began 75 years ago when Owsley Brown I founded what is now the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), a trade association committed to responsibility. Today Brown-Forman continues to build on this legacy through our alcohol responsibility strategy with four components:
- Industry collaboration and thought leadership
- Practicing responsible marketing
- Reducing alcohol related harms
- Promoting responsible drinking.
Download our full Corporate Responsibility Report 2015-16
Our commitment to corporate responsibility is anchored in our culture and values, but we can better achieve our purpose of enriching life by leveraging the expertise and capabilities of others. Local partnerships make a difference in communities and can scale up to address social and environmental problems more widely.
The Ad Council, Total Wine & More, BeMyDD
The Ad Council
Interviewee: Allison Palmer, Campaign Manager, The Ad Council
The Ad Council is a non-profit organization that produces, distributes, and promotes campaigns that improve everyday lives. The organization’s work inspires ongoing dialogue, engagement, and action around significant public issues, creating a measurable difference in society.
Total Wine & More
Interviewee: Matt Indre, Senior Manager, Public Affairs
Founded in 1991, Total Wine & More is the largest independent retailer of fine spirits, wine, and beer in the United States, with 117 superstores across 16 states.
Interviewee: Arthur Simanovsky, CEO
Be My Designated Driver (BeMyDD) is the nation’s largest designated driver service, currently operating in 76 markets in 31 states, providing drivers at a discounted rate by utilizing the customer’s automobile.
The Ad Council, Total Wine & More, and BeMYDD worked with Brown-Forman on the Buzzed Driving Prevention Campaign during the 2013 / 2014 winter holiday season. The campaign is designed to change behaviors and perceptions around impaired driving through advertising. While the advertising aired in donated time and space, with Brown-Forman’s support, we were able to execute a multifaceted marketing campaign, ensuring it reached target audiences – including beverage alcohol shoppers – with the message: “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.” Total Wine & More created awareness by showcasing “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” visual displays in 65 of their store locations. Store team members talked about the program with customers and other educational takeaways were featured prominently. BeMyDD took the marketing effort from education to action — offering $20 discounts to new customers, making the solution affordable and accessible, and encouraging first-time users.
The campaign website features educational information and a pledge that calls for visitors to show their support by not driving buzzed. Total Wine & More sent an email newsletter to its more than one million subscribers, which drove traffic to the campaign website. We observed an increase in traffic to the online pledge — in December 2014, 1,672 people signed on, compared to a monthly average of 477 pledges for the rest of the year.
More than 10,000 people still die each year in the U.S. due to drunk driving. We need to scale the partnership across the nation to additional stores and on-premise in bars and restaurants. We want more people to rely on designated drivers and safe rider providers like BeMyDD, so we need to keep raising awareness. Social media presents strategic opportunities to have the campaign engage influencers relevant to our audience and to cross-promote the messaging on multiple platforms. We could also extend our reach with a streamlined, jointly branded landing page with a user-friendly online experience that has educational resources and other promotions. As planning begins for the 2015 holiday season, we look forward to a partnership with targeted, strategic outreach in support of the Buzzed Driving Prevention Campaign.
Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility
Ralph Blackman, President & CEO
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) is an independent U.S. non-profit funded by the distilled spirits industry that works to reduce drunk driving and underage drinking, and promote responsible alcohol consumption.
Responsibility.org worked with Brown-Forman to test the effectiveness of responsible drinking campaigns with Total Wine & More customers in several markets across the U.S. The exercise marked the first time data was collected with a national retailer, which will help inform our future messaging. Together, we also developed talking points and position statements that Brown-Forman used to testify for enacting more stringent and effective drunk driving laws in Kentucky.
Our partnership with Brown-Forman is successful because both parties have something to offer the other. On messaging, Responsibility.org has campaign strategies that benefit from Brown-Forman’s communications channels. On alcohol-related legislation, we develop research-based policies that guide Brown-Forman’s alcohol responsibility strategy. Working in partnership helps Responsibility.org achieve results by getting our message out to a broader audience and passing legislation proven to have an impact on reducing drunk driving fatalities.
Corporate and consumer brands can be a powerful driver of responsibility to a wide audience, when their messages are delivered in an authentic voice, and to engaged consumers. To get there, each brand needs to find its own voice, understand what messaging will resonate with its audience and determine how and when to deliver on the responsibility promise. We believe there is an opportunity for Brown-Forman to scale up its use of brands to positively influence responsible drinking attitudes and behaviors.
Fundación de Investigaciones Sociales (FISAC)
Jessica Paredes Durán, Director of Community Service
Fundación de Investigaciones Sociales A.C. (Foundation for Social Research) (FISAC) is a non-profit established by leading producers of wine and spirits in Mexico. FISAC’s mission is to promote responsible alcohol consumption in Mexico through health education and a culture of responsibility.
Brown-Forman is one of six industry partners in Mexico that helps plan FISAC’s national alcohol responsibility campaigns and health care programs. Together, we review concepts and objectives for these initiatives to improve their effectiveness. We also keep industry members updated on alcohol responsibility news, research, policies, and regulations.
Every year, we work with leaders from Brown-Forman Mexico to evaluate our strategy, progress, performance indicators, goals, and opportunities for improvement. This establishes credibility for our organization and helps us garner support from scientific and academic communities. It also has helped us increase engagement with other businesses, non-profit institutions, and media outlets, so we can reach a wider audience.
The challenge for FISAC will be how to increase the scope and scale of our programs so we continue to reach more people. To do so, we will need to involve more industry partners and coordinate campaigns and programs with additional non-profits across Mexico. We look to work more closely with government and health agencies to align our messages about alcohol responsibility with Mexican culture.
We actively engage stakeholders – from employees and community members to governments and non-profit organizations – in our corporate responsibility efforts. The case studies below highlight our work in action and demonstrate how we are having a positive impact and enriching life for generations to come.
El Jimador Teams Up with Portland Timbers
El Jimador partnered with the Oregon Bartenders Guild and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to promote responsible drinking to Major League Soccer (MLS) fans in Oregon. Portland Timbers fans participated in a contest, voting for the official mocktail of the Timbers 2015 MLS season.
“As the official sponsor of the MLS, we are proud to be part of the mocktail contest to promote responsible drinking,” said Mark Grindstaff, Group Brand Director for Brown Forman Tequilas. “Mocktails provide a responsible solution to those looking to drink in moderation.”
The winning mocktail, The Timber Tantrum, is available at all Portland Timbers home games in 2015.
Live Free and Host Responsibly
In partnership with the New Hampshire Liquor Commission (NHLC), Brown-Forman launched a year-long campaign focused on educating restaurant and lounge owners throughout the state about responsible alcohol service and consumption. The Live Free and Host Responsibly campaign maintains a website full of resources that emphasize responsible consumption, including how to serve responsibly yet profitably, how to tell when a customer has been overserved, and downloadable cocktail and mocktail recipes. During Alcohol Awareness Month this year, the NHLC Enforcement Division led training sessions for restaurant owners, managers and servers, as well as driver education courses emphasizing alcohol responsibility for the general public.