Cannes Lions

Turning Beer Into Water

FLEISHMANHILLARD, New York / ANHEUSER-BUSCH / 2018

Awards:

1 Gold Cannes Lions
1 Bronze Cannes Lions
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Case Film
Case Film
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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Description

A-B’s tradition of producing emergency drinking water is admirable, but it’s not new. What made this year’s effort unique was an innovative storytelling approach, in the context of a broader national story. Our Community First strategy prioritized those who mattered most in this national dialogue: the impacted residents of Florida, Houston, Louisiana, California and Puerto Rico.

To drive coverage and social conversation, as part of our creative strategy we elevated the surprise factor of the country’s biggest brewer canning water rather than beer. In a year defined by division, these bold acts of kindness – A-B employees rolling up their sleeves to help Americans in need – offered the country a moment to come together, celebrating the companies who put the community before their bottom line.

Execution

When Hurricane Harvey hit, we assembled a team to tailor content for all audience groups, coordinate interview requests and respond to a huge volume of media inquiries.

Our media tactics focused on the practical aspects of our content: keeping affected communities informed of where, when and how to access water, while maintaining a humble tone throughout. Our storytelling and tactical approach drove massive coverage and amplification of A-B’s efforts, both in states affected by Harvey and across the nation, as the novel story of A-B brewing water instead of beer took hold.

In September, we continued our work for Hurricane Irma in Florida. Then again for Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Maria and California’s wildfires, securing a continued steady drumbeat of media coverage. We evolved our narrative to emphasize the efforts of A-B employees, further humanizing the program and keeping A-B’s efforts in the spotlight even as the natural story arc declined.

Outcome

Our campaign made A-B’s water donations program one of the highest-visibility programs in company history. The results far exceeded goals, and successfully positioned A-B on a national scale as a leading corporate citizen leveraging its strengths to help communities in their times of need – exactly what our Community First approach was designed to achieve.

Our earned media efforts, without any paid support, resulted in 1,316 total stories on traditional platforms, including in virtually every top-tier outlet, totaling over 1.24 billion potential impressions. The social media conversations – six times greater than any previous A-B water donation effort. The program trended nationally on both Facebook and Twitter, driving the highest-ever follower growth on A-B’s social channels and among the highest-ever social chatter.

A-B’s water donation program has since become the A-B initiative with the highest favorable impact on national opinion elites, eclipsing all of A-B’s sustainability and military support programs.

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