Brewer advocates smart drinking culture in China

By Li Ying Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/7 16:53:39

AB InBev's Smart Drinking campaign has been held from 2008 to 2017. Photo: Courtesy of AB InBev

Moments before Hong Kong superstar Eason Chan stepped on stage to promote the importance of drinking responsibly, he sat in the front row and talked to Jean Jereissati, the president in charge of the APAC North of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer by sales. In 2008, Eason Chan starred in Budweiser's first public service video to promote smart drinking habits in China.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of AB InBev's Smart Drinking campaign, a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program aimed at reducing the harmful use of alcohol and eliminating drunk driving on China's roads.

The occasion was the launch of the latest promotional video Smart Choice, the second cooperation between Budweiser and Chan, at the Ancestral Temple in Beijing on September 2.

"The Smart Drinking campaign is part of AB InBev's vision. We want to be in a growing world, a cleaner and healthier world," said Jereissati, who was put in charge of the APAC North of Anheuser-Busch InBev business in January.

Jean Jereissati, the president in charge of the APAC North of Anheuser-Busch InBev Photo: Courtesy of AB InBev

AB InBev's market share in China saw a noted increase during his 2013-2017 tenure as the company's China president.

"We want to tackle the harmful effects of alcohol consumption," he explained. "We have been trying not just to help raise awareness of smart drinking but also to encourage consumers to make the right choices and apply them in action."

Drunk driving poses a serious threat to public safety. To further emphasize the importance of responsible drinking habits to Chinese consumers, AB InBev has partnered with the government, including the Traffic Management Bureau of the Public Security Ministry, the Shanghai Traffic Police Corps, and nongovernmental organizations.

Entertainment and sports celebrities such as former NBA player Yao Ming, Olympic hurdler Liu Xiang and China's first tennis grand slam champion Li Na have also been invited to act as Budweiser's smart drinking ambassadors to encourage alcohol consumers to avoid driving under the influence.

"We bring the right people together and promote smart drinking in a consistent way," said Jereissati.

In the latest Smart Choice video, Chan shared his own story of making a life choice between becoming an architect or a musician.

"Sometimes it takes one's whole life to see if a decision was wrong or right. Sometimes it only takes a second," he said in the video, indicating how a decision made too quickly, such as driving drunk, can have tragic results.

Hong Kong superstar Eason Chan Photo: Courtesy of AB InBev

Wang Hui, who is also featured in the video, is a victim of drunk driving. In May 2010, Wang lost her husband and a daughter in a deadly car crash caused by a drunk driver on Chang'an Avenue in Beijing.

After a painful recovery, she now promotes safe driving using her own story to warn the public.

The online video campaign is just one of the company's measures to meet its wider Smart Drinking goals. Innovation in its product portfolio is set to help the company provide more smart drinking choices to consumers.

"We are going to invest $1 billion from today to 2025 to help raise awareness and change consumer behavior not only in China but across the world," said Jereissati.

"Our goal is for 20 percent of our beverages to have either a low alcohol content or no alcohol by 2025, and we want 20 percent of our sales to come from drinks with a low alcohol content."

The Smart Choice crew and Eason Chan (right) during the event Photo: Courtesy of AB InBev

AB InBev recently launched a nonalcoholic Budweiser beverage for those who cannot drink alcohol. The company is also in the process of changing its product labels to give more alcohol information to consumers and help them make smart choices.

But how can a brewer make a profit by reducing alcohol use?

Profits that come from the harmful use of alcohol don't interest us, said Jereissati.

"We want to give options to consumers of alcohol. We want to make them conscious that they have smart drinking options," he said.


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