Youth-Targeting Awareness & NAB Offering Redefine AB InBev’s China Smart Drinking Campaign

September 4, 2019 – Shanghai, China – Right ahead of China’s annual “9/9 National Philanthropy Day”, world-leading brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD) today renewed its public-service legacy in China by celebrating the latest iteration of its “Smart Drinking, No Drink & Drive” campaign with a major gala by Shanghai’s Huangpu River. The brewer took advantage of the philanthropic gathering to release its latest hip-hop public-awareness animation Never Drink and Drive, co-produced with the Forbidden City and starred by Harbin Beer’s Generation Z virtual character Hajiang as well as the brand’s first No-Alcohol beer (NAB), seeking to address the country’s fast-changing social landscape in which drink-driving is becoming younger. The event, marking the start of AB InBev’s 12th year of public service in China, was attended, witnessed and co-celebrated by AB InBev’s high-profile public-sector partners including the Ministry of Public Security, Shanghai Traffic Police, the China Road Traffic Safety Association and the China Alcoholic Drinks Association.

Photo: Unique public-private partnership kicks off AB InBev’s 2019 China smart drinking campaign

Jan Craps, Chief Executive Officer and President of AB InBev APAC, said: “We’ve been whole-heartedly devoted to our ‘Smart Drinking, No Drink & Drive’ public-awareness campaign in China for 12 years in a row. Chinese people love to say that 12 years mark a full circle as well as a complete success, but in our eyes, such an endurance just urges us to further think and innovate. Both launching our brand-new Harbin NAB and partnering with the Forbidden City represent our even bolder expressions of our ‘no drink-driving’ advocacy.”

Photo: AB InBev APAC CEO & President Jan Craps shares AB InBev s public-service legacy and mentality

Palace-Themed Hip-Hop Animation Sets New Trend for Fostering No-Drink-Driving Awareness

Central to AB InBev’s 2019 smart drinking campaign is a multi-cultural awareness strategy built around the Harbin Beer brand, which has long been active in China’s young cultural scenes including China vogue, street pop and ACGN (animation, comic, game and novel).

Highlighting a multi-cultural hybrid that mixes popular elements such as ACG, hip-hop, palace, and period drama, the beer brand has co-produced a mindset-influencing animation Never Drink and Drive, It stars the brand’s newly-created virtual character Hajiang, around whom a thought-provoking plot has been constructed to better appeal to China’s rising Z Generation consumers – Hajiang time-travels to the ancient time and becomes a royal driver, but she defies the emperor’s bestowed drink and pays back the royal favor by showing lessons learnt from how unsmart drinking has embarrassed three of China’s most famous historical celebrities in the once-glorious Tang Dynasty:

For legendary poet Li Bai, the always-gracious Concubine Yang and high-ranking official He Zhizhang, they all shamed themselves as indulgence turned into disaster when they lost their court-reserved manners. By revisiting these alarming stories, Hajiang presents a lively lesson which makes His Majesty agree to the hard truth of “Never Drink and Drive” and prevents a potential royal drink-driving accident. The plot has also been given a practical boost from Shanghai Traffic Police, which send one of its role-model officers to co-star the video and join Hajiang in saving His Majesty from the danger of drink-driving, helping deliver the main theme with a humorous yet official tone.

Commenting on the brand’s bold creative attempt for awareness-building, Frank Wang, Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs at AB InBev APAC, stated: “We refuse to harp on the old tune and seek to foster empathy with the Gen Zers, by making the no drink-driving cause trendier and cooler. It will work better in guiding the Gen Zers into Harbin Beer’s earnestly-advocated mentality of ‘Never Drink and Drive’. By retelling those Tang Dynasty stories in the animation, we want to iterate that drink-driving can do more than just harming your reputation, but jeopardizing the life of yours and others as well. That’s why we say drink-driving is the thin red line that you should never look to breach.”

Harbin Beer’s First-Ever NAB Empowers Consumers with Smarter Choices

Beyond the wildly imaginative awareness video, Harbin Beer also took advantage of the smart drinking gala to launch its first non-alcohol beer. Brewed with a unique process of precision dealcoholization, the pioneering product is masterfully brewed to retain the flavor substances and rich tastes of traditional beer yet provide a stronger wheat fragrance while reducing the alcohol content as much as possible. This has also been AB InBev’s first product-based breakthrough after a 12-year commitment of no-drink-driving ideas that has focused on social norms to change consumer behaviors.

This new NAB offering has also enjoyed quite a presence in Harbin Beer’s awareness animation, enriching the time-travel plot with a modern-day touch. Being the animation’s Easter Egg, the Harbin NAB severs as not only Hajiang’s low-alcohol indulgent solution for His Majesty, but also an effective call-to-action from AB InBev to the Gen Zers to opt for smarter drinking choices and repress drink-driving impulse. And the brewer sees the launch as a firm step towards one of its Global Smart Drinking Goal commitments, which tends to have such low-alcohol offerings account for at least 20% of its global beer volume by 2025.

Photo: Harbin Beer launches first-ever NAB offering, designed and delivered with a palace theme

As the brand’s first-of-its-kind offering in China, the Harbin NAB comes with an eye-catching look that carries rich cultural implications. The can is designed with distinctive Chinese-style elements and colors – red palace walls, yellow dragon symbols, crimson royal seals, and classic looks of the qipao-costumed Haijiang and the imperial-robed His Majesty, fully revealing the product’s crossover fun as a royal designation! It is now offered on China’s major online shopping platforms in a fully-customized creative gift pack, which includes a royal edict hand-written by His Majesty forbidding all drink-driving acts, an ancient-style paper fan providing calming breezes, a strapped card case reminding drivers to go to designated drivers whenever drinking, and a range of no-drink-driving-themed accessories like adhesive tape and phone ring holder…

He Yong, Deputy Secretary-General of the China Alcoholic Drinks Association and Secretary-General of the association’s beer branch, showed his approval of such a product-based action: “As a trade association, we’ve always taken responsibility as an integral part of alcoholic products, because one product sold should mean one responsibility taken. Promoting smart drinking is never something that is easily achieved overnight but requires unbending long-term commitment. AB InBev has been fully devoted to this cause for 12 years, and now plays an active role in our association’s ‘smart drinking awareness week’ public-service campaign. We hope more industry players can also join this meaningful cause to co-promote smart drinking and advance social responsibility.”

Virtual Character Hajiang Swears in As Shanghai’s First-Ever Virtual Traffic Safety Promotion Volunteer

Immediately following her public debut that the awareness gala, virtual character Hajiang expressed her sincere wish to join Shanghai’s volunteer team for promoting civilized traffic practices. Highly affirmative and supportive of the proposal, Wang Liang, Deputy chief of the Traffic Police General Brigade under the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, said: “Hajiang’s involvement also makes her our first-ever virtual volunteer for promoting civilized traffic practices, as we consider introducing virtual idol to public-awareness campaigns a powerful innovation in our public-private partnership in addressing drink-driving. We’d like to thank AB InBev for its continuous, diversified attempts to fight drink-driving, as it’s been calling for more young people to seriously pay attention to road traffic safety and say no to drink-driving as well as contribute to building a harmonious road traffic safety environment in Shanghai.

Photo: Virtual character Hajiang swears in as Shanghai’s first-ever virtual traffic safety promotion volunteer

But AB InBev’s philanthropic path never just ends with the gala and the awareness campaign, as the brewer seeks to elevate its contribution to the “Traffic Safety Education and Promotion Program”, an educational initiative directed by the Ministry of Public Security Traffic Management Bureau. In line with its multi-cultural communication strategy, it has partnered with the Forbidden City to co-design a palace-themed traffic safety education magic box of special meanings. Co-developed with expertise from the China Children’s Press & Publication Group, the reinvented toolkit seeks to help children and teenagers fast command traffic safety knowledge in a fun-packed way.

More than that, AB InBev has vowed to donate all TMall-based online sales of the palace-themed Harbin NAB and creative gift pack as well as an additional sum of up to RMB 500,000 to the program, as it encourages more consumers to join in the public-service campaign to support underage-oriented traffic safety education.

AB InBev Joins Stakeholders in Promoting “Never Drink and Drive” to Gen Zers

To relay no-drink-driving ideas to more young consumers and bigger market coverages, AB InBev’s 2019 public-awareness campaign is also teaming up with multiple partners including transport solution expert Dida and popular banking service provider China Guangfa Bank to launch a nationwide initiative. With Dida Chuxing, Harbin Beer will jointly issue taxi-ride coupons that can be used in more than 100 cities, calling on young consumers to refrain from their drink-driving impulses. The brand will also work with CGB to roll out campus experientials by penetrating more than 20 universities in key cities including Beijing and Guangzhou, leveraging both online and offline channels to maximum the reach to Gen Z college students about no-drink-driving.

On the event day, more than 10,000 AB InBev employees across the country also hit the street and approached restaurants and alcohol vendors, working with sales assistants to call on consumers to refrain from drink-driving.

Photo: AB InBev volunteers stage GBRD public-service activities around China, calling for no-drink-driving commitments

Wang Jing, Secretary General of the China Road Traffic Safety Association, noted: “Drink-driving-related governance requires the common concern and active participation from across the society. Only when the whole society jointly addresses and resists drunk driving can this illegal act be effectively reined and related traffic accidents be effectively controlled. We hope that more corporate players like AB InBev can join in the public service that relate to traffic safety, co-advocate the concept of no drink-driving and make contributions to the realization of our shared dream of road traffic safety.”

The 2019 Harbin Beer “Smart Drinking, No Drink and Drive” intercultural hip-hop awareness video Never Drink and Drive is officially released through all channels on September 3. The brand’s first NAB and palace-themed creative gift pack is also concurrently released to the brand’s TMall flagship store, welcoming all consumers to make a good-will purchase and join Hajiang in AB InBev’s new philanthropic path.

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Company Name: AB InBev
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Country: China