The New York Times: Have a Drink on Us. And Tell Your Friends.


Excerpt: American Family Insurance, which sells its products in 19 states, held events called “One Saturday to Dream Fearlessly” last year in five key markets: Minneapolis-St. Paul; Madison, Wis.; Atlanta; Seattle; and Portland, Ore. The name reflected the company’s mission to “inspire, protect and restore dreams.”

Each event featured celebrities (the singer John Legend in the Twin Cities, the N.F.L. star J. J. Watt in Madison) who participated in community service projects with local American Family employees and agents and local volunteers. Among these was a “dream academy” in Atlanta, with activities designed to show young people that “when it comes to dreams, the sky is the limit.” The events were created with the assistance of agencies like BBDO and Mindshare.

Community initiatives appear to be producing positive results for the companies that sponsor them, quantifiable and not.

Alex Thompson, vice president of brand stewardship and impact for REI, said eight million people participated in #OptOutside last year by spending Black Friday outdoors, up from 1.4 million in 2015, based on social media engagements. Over 600 organizations, including companies like Subaru, Google and Unilever, as well as groups like the National Park Service and Sierra Club, have become involved in the campaign.

James Kanter, MillerCoors’s general manager for Wisconsin, said his company’s initiatives helped it “sell beer and build community relations.” Its recent Texas event took place in Fort Worth on Friday, Texas Independence Day, and Saturday, when a free concert, with free food and beer, was held at its brewery there.

Such events, said Telisa Yancy, chief marketing officer of American Family Insurance, are a different way to engage customers that is “relevant and aligned with the current zeitgeist.” Research confirms “our belief that consumers want to support brands and companies that go beyond transactional sales to create social impact,” she added.

Read the full piece in The New York Times here. And, to learn more about our work on the “One Saturday to Dream Fearlessly” program with American Family Insurance, check out our recap of the Portland event done in partnership with Amazon, ChickTech, and Kathy Ireland.