SABMiller India

Toast to life

Tribune(Chandigarh), 26-February-2009

It’s a classic case of irony – when a friend gives you the same advice your ‘mommy’ preached a week ago, it’s taken . So when a liquor company deflates its lungs screaming, ‘Know your limits’, ‘Don’t drink and drive’, ‘Underage driving isn’t cool’ we appreciate the gesture and sincerely hope it finds takers, whatever the ‘true intentions’ behind the campaign; philanthropy or just whatever!

SAB Miller India, the brand behind Foster’s , Haywards etc, launches a one-month campaign to promote responsible drinking. Sandeep Kumar, director, corporate affairs and communication, SABMiller India Limited, talks of the initiative, the corporate social responsibility, drinking and of course drunk driving.

Just a week ago, Lifestyle, carried a write-up on Corporate Social Responsibility, how the concept remains unaffected by recession (fortunately so!). Corrects Sandeep, “As far as FMCG, beer companies go, we are not affected by recession as much as taxation and political problems, including Andhra Pradesh not increasing prices, Punjab increasing taxes.” And doesn’t forget to add, “We had planned it for a while now, moreover this is something that we believed in.” Surely, the company’s too old in the industry to be taking up an initiative for the first time. Nevertheless, need to ask, first time? He says, “We have been involved in several such activities, but they were at a localized level, for example in a particular area. This is for the first time we are doing it at a large scale.” The month long community initiative will cover cities like, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Hyderabad among others. “Our research that involved organizations like media, government and NGO’s, said these are the cities, which are aware and concerned most about the cause.” The tools and activities include, the very usual radio announcements, jingles, to slightly off beat hoardings, street plays and interactive mobile van carrying the message where people would be asked certain questions pertaining to responsible driving. He adds, “We are open to suggestions too, want people, organizations, society at large to come together and work it out.” “We have even launched a website where myths, facts, information regarding responsible drinking have been dealt with.” Does he feel the campaign is going to be effective and reach where it needs to? He says, “I know I am not going to change people, society and those few careless souls that give a bad name to whole community, altogether. I am aware of the limits.” He doesn’t forget to mention, “When a liquor company says drink less it’s likely to raise skepticism in the minds of people, but when we say drink responsibility, it should be taken seriously.”

They plan to keep the plan rolling in future and also wish the initiative catalyses the process and so do we. Anybody attentive?