According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Organization, drunk driving costs the United States $199 billion a year. This is a staggering number and poses the question of why aren’t the companies that are selling alcohol products to the public and gaining millions in revenue each year from their sale, helping to reduce the social costs directly associated with their products. On the surface it seems that there is not much that can be done as the breweries to combat this issue. People freely choose to drink, and people freely choose to drink and then drive drunk.
However, many breweries, both big and small, have recognized that with their influence across communities and expansive marketing reach that it is possible to impact people’s decision to drink and drive and help eradicate this widespread issue in the US once and for all. As a consumer, I would definitely like to be aware of such companies that do go above and beyond to reduce their negative impact on the community. This would seem like a key point to consider when examining the practices of any brewery micro or macro.
Larger companies such as Anheuser-Busch have taken on a civil corporation view and recognized that with such widespread power in the industry comes greater responsibility. The makers of Budweiser have committed over $980 million in national advertising campaigns and preventative programs within the community to prevent issues like drunk driving and underage consumption. These campaigns, such as the Budweiser Designate A Driver program, are crucial because they are seen by a large sample of the population, both of age and underage. The reason why it is important for underage viewers to see these is because they will grow up with a perspective of how to responsibly enjoy alcohol when they do turn 21. Other companies in the industry strive to reduce the social costs associated with alcohol production, particularly through raising awareness about the dangers of alcohol abuse as well as drinking and driving.
Viewing the principles outlined in Beer Institute’s “Advertising and Marketing Code” prior to the creation of any advertising campaigns is essential for companies who want to market their products in a responsible manner. Carlsberg Brewers Group sets and accomplishes goals for responsible marketing which many other brewers in the beer industry are adopting such as
- All print communication above A4 and digital and TVC to carry responsible drinking messages
- All markets to implement at least 1 responsible drinking programme
- 100% of primary or secondary packaging to carry health messages to discourage:
- Drinking and driving
- Consumption by underage persons
- Consumption by pregnant women
In 2013, New Belgium became a Certified B Corporation which means that to maintain this certification they must demonstrate a focus on employees, the community, and the environment year after year. Recognizing these three important groups as stakeholders really influences every decision New Belgium makes. With this New Belgium really looks to promote initiatives that reduce the social costs left inevitably by their product, one of the main ones being drunk driving deaths and injuries. At their annual Tour de Fat, which New Belgium holds in numerous cities across the US, responsible consumption is encouraged and advertised throughout the bike ride.
Over the last 5-10 years brewing companies, both large and small, have been making real strides in altering their operations to incorporate sustainability and to internalize social costs associated with their product, in particular drunk driving deaths and injuries. In my opinion, next steps for brewers and beer companies would be to partner and promote ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber to further encourage responsible drinking and getting consumers of their products home safely. A report conducted by Uber in May 2014 supports this, which estimated that the entrance of Uber in Seattle coincided with a more than 10% reduction in the number of arrests for DUI. Be smart out there folks, and listen to companies like the ones mentioned above and enjoy their products responsibly so you can make it to enjoying another cold crisp craft brew next weekend.