DAVID, Miami / ABINBEV / 2020
Sports have always been a stable, consistent and inspiring part of culture. But when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the WHO, the sports world as we know it was stopped in its tracks . Starting with the NBA on March 11, every major sports league paused their seasons for the first time ever. But sports weren’t the only thing we needed that were forced to shut down. Blood drives were also being cancelled when they were most needed, as people were advised to stay home and there were few locations large enough to host socially distanced drives.
Bad news just kept on piling, and as people’s lives worldwide were changing overnight, Budweiser knew we had to do our part help out, provide a sense of positivity and togetherness and, if possible, save lives.
Budweiser realized that the now-empty, massive sports stadiums it sponsored could be used to address the blood shortage crisis. We decided to shift our sports sponsorship dollars from multiple teams to just one team. We announced a partnership with the Red Cross and redirected our sports sponsorship dollars to help them set up new blood drive centers inside our team partners’ empty stadiums across the country.
We announced One Team with a film that honored the frontline of the COVID-19 fight, recognizing these heroes with the names of out-of-play sports teams. For example, nurses treating COVID patients were called “The Blues” (St Louis Blues, NHL), teachers continuing to teach from home were called “The Magic” (Orlando Magic, NBA), vaccine researchers were called “Trail Blazers” (Portland Trail Blazers, NBA) and blood donors were called “Angels” (Los Angeles Angels, MLB).
In times of crisis, people often deprioritize donating blood to focus on other needs. With COVID, the need for social distancing and fear of virus exposure intensified this.
Budweiser carefully considered how we could help address this situation, creating a two-pronged strategy to drive action around the message: “This season, we’re all One Team.”
First, we needed to raise awareness around the need for blood donations by utilizing existing advertising inventory and the massive reach of our brand and sports partners to bring this message to life.
Second, we needed to ensure donors felt informed and safe giving blood. We identified stadiums that could accommodate social distancing and safety guidelines, and created national and localized assets encouraging consumers to access the resources they needed to feel safe donating blood.
This strategy and message allowed us to reach a mass consumer audience, with a focus on our target 35-44 co-ed consumer.
After finalizing our partnership with the Red Cross and our sports team partners, we launched the One Team campaign with a film that ran online (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube) and on TV (for one week) announcing our commitment to reallocating our sports sponsorship dollars to the Red Cross blood drives. In partnership with the Red Cross and our sports league partners, we hosted 78 blood drives in our team partners’ empty sports stadiums over a 3-month period. We also created localized assets encouraging people to donate blood at their local stadiums. The One Team film and campaign was also adopted and scaled by Budweiser globally in Canada, the UK and Africa.
In addition to generating over 5,300 units of blood donations (enough to save over 16,000 lives), One Team earned 1.4 billion PR impressions and 99% positive sentiment on social, largely from people who usually compete. Baseball stars like Alex Bregman and Gleyber Torres, and political and media figures from both sides of the aisle like Vice President Mike Pence and CNN’s Jake Tapper, put differences aside to unite and encourage their audiences to join them.
One Team was the first major brand campaign to actionably address some of the pandemic’s challenges, providing hope at a time it was desperately needed. This increased brand affinity helped us grow share of segment for the first time in two decades. This growth continued for eighteen consecutive weeks, and halfway through the campaign’s run marked the beginning of a sharp sales increase that led to Budweiser’s first positive sales year in 20 years.