Hydrating Our Nation’s Heroes: Anheuser-Busch and National Volunteer Fire Council
Anheuser-Busch is one of America’s leading brewers that owns and operates more than 100 facilities with more than 18,000 employees across the country with beer brands including Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob ULTRA and Stella Artois, as well as a number of regional and craft brands.
The US beer industry is very large – contributing $328 billion+ in economic output – and highly competitive with over 7,400 breweries across the country. However, as the number of breweries continues to climb, the industry has been declining and due to A-B’s size, the company has often been perceived through a “big is bad” mentality.
To lead growth in the face of a challenged industry, A-B has adopted a community-focused approach to its reputation to capture consumer loyalty. Emergency drinking water donations have long been part of the brewer’s social impact toolkit.
The past few years have brought some of the most destructive natural disasters our country has ever faced. In times of need, we rely heavily on the support of our first responders but volunteer fire departments across the country are understaffed and under-supported. The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) assists these first responders as the leading nonprofit
membership association representing the interests of the volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services.
As A-B explored how to best support the nation’s fire service, they heard the old adage from countless firefighters – “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This concept sparked an insight on how the company could evolve its longstanding emergency drinking water program to help plan ahead to support in times of disaster.
A-B teamed up with the National Volunteer Fire Council and committed to providing one million cans of emergency drinking water to volunteer firefighters to provide critical hydration to those who are volunteering to put their lives on the line. However, rather than waiting for disaster to strike, A-B would provide these critical resources for immediate and upcoming wildfire response needs, beginning in May of 2019 to help departments prepare for the upcoming wildfire season.
The objectives of the program brought both the business and cause objectives together as they worked to 1) work with wholesalers across the country to provide emergency drinking water to volunteer fire departments and 2) drive local storytelling to raise awareness on the needs of the fire service and how the partnership supports them.
As a result, the campaign storytelling led to a higher awareness of A-B’s emergency drinking water program among national opinion elites.
During the first two weeks of June 2019, in advance of wildfire season, A-B donated nearly 300,000 cans of emergency drinking water to 26 volunteer fire departments in some of the country’s most wildfire vulnerable markets across the country. Since then, with the launch of the ongoing program, awareness of the program among volunteer fire departments has resulted in significant application response and nearly 300 deliveries of emergency drinking water providing more than 1.6M cans to volunteer firefighters across the country – more than fulfilling the initial commitment to one million cans in 2019.