Can Stella Artois’ Use of Corporate Social Responsibility Restore the Brand’s Image?

by Jonathan Routledge

Stella Artois have recently provided an eye-catching piece of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by partnering with water.org in a campaign bid to raise awareness of families struggles to get access to clean water.

The campaign is called ‘Buy a Lady a Drink’. This is a clever twist on a phrase normally associated with alcoholic beverages. Using it in this context of a much more serious meaning could be a more appealing to engage the companies usual target audiences with this issue and make them more aware of the struggles impoverished people have with something as basic as access to clean drinking water.

After diverting the consumer to this new section, they are then offered a limited addition Stella chalice and told that buying one is the equivalent of five years’ clean water for someone. It is a strong incentive for their regular clientele to get involved, not only because of the issues raised but the fact they are getting something of interest to them in return for their good deed.

This is excellent CSR by Stella, a company that faced controversy in the UK for being associated with domestic violence in the tabloids. Of course there is no basis for this argument, but it is well-known among the British public and this is potentially damaging to their reputation. In fact, as recently as last year a Londis corner shop in Norfolk was forced to apologise for advertising Stella on a poster with the phrase ‘wife beater’ involved.

With this on-going reputation problem, a clean up of the brand’s image is needed and this campaign could help towards that. The company have thrown a lot of resources behind this campaign and in partnering with water.org receive the endorsement and celebrity power of Matt Damon in this new campaign that particularly appeals to younger consumers.

The results of the campaign thus far have seen 225,000 chalices sold, raising £2.4 million for water.org to distribute to impoverished countries across the world.  Added to the reputation clean up, this campaign also has also opened the brand up to a younger audience, at least according to Rowan Chidgey (senior brand manager of the company) who points to more than increased sales

‘Younger people are considering us more as a brand and we’re becoming more relevant to them, and that’s been reflected not just in rising sales but in our brand equity as well. It is fair to say historically Stella Artois is seen as an older [person’s] brand so we needed a new way of resonating with a younger audience. The ‘Buy A Lady A Drink’ campaign has been perfect for achieving that.’

This campaign may not fully shake off the ‘wife beater’ tag the company has unfortunately gained. However, with a big star endorsing it, sales on the rise and younger people responding to the brand; Stella Artois look to be in a much better position with the campaign compared to when they entered into it three years ago. If success continues, it will be an important piece of CSR for the company.

 

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