Anhueser-Busch InBev today announced it will redirect $5 million that it normally spends on sports and entertainment marketing to the American Red Cross to support the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The donation comes as the sports world remains shut down.
The brewer, which describes itself as the nation’s largest sponsor of live sports and entertainment, also pledged to work alongside its sports partners to identify arenas and stadiums that can be used for temporary blood drive centers. AB InBev will also make available to the Red Cross its tour centers in Merrimack, New Hampshire and St. Louis. Additionally, the brewer will donate media air time to the Red Cross for public service announcements.
As part of the announcement, AB InBev today released a Budweiser ad called “One Team” that begins with an empty baseball stadium, before showing scenes of frontline workers battling the pandemic, including healthcare professionals, researchers and Red Cross volunteers. One scene shows a teacher reading a story via livestream. The voiceover characterizes the crisis workers with descriptions like the "Magic" and the the "Warriors," all professional sports team names that take on added meaning when applied to those carrying on in the throes of the crisis. The ad ends by making a shout-out to the “home team” against the backdrop of a house and then a larger neighborhood with people safely tucked inside their houses.
The ad, by David, began airing on digital today and will run on TV starting this weekend.
Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, in a statement said that “we are currently experiencing an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations. In fact, about 7,000 Red Cross blood drives have been canceled across the country due to COVID-19 concerns, resulting in some 220,000 fewer blood donations.” She added that “we are grateful to Anheuser-Busch and their sports partners for supporting new blood drives to help us to maintain a much-needed supply for patients counting on lifesaving blood in the weeks and months to come.”
Today’s announcement follows a move earlier this week by the brewer to begin producing and distributing hand sanitizer that will be distributed at Red Cross blood donation centers and emergency shelters.
“COVID-19 has changed how we all live our lives, but it hasn’t changed Anheuser-Busch’s priorities and our commitments as an employer, a business partner and a corporate citizen,” Michel Doukeris, CEO of the company’s U.S. division, said in a statement. “While we can’t solve this crisis on our own, we are proud to do what we can to serve and support our communities in need and the heroes on the front lines, using our capabilities, our relationships, and our reach to do our part. We invite other companies to use their unique capabilities to join us in this effort, however they can, so that together we can make a difference.”