GSB News and Notes: Budweiser Pushes (Blowin’ in The) Wind Power in Super Bowl Ad; Tokyo Olympic Marathon Course Could Be Too Hot for Some Spectators; Asics to Turn Recycled Clothing into Japan’s 2020 Olympic Uniforms

GSB’s News & Notes has a Green-Sports Mega-Event flavor today.

For the second year in a row, Budweiser will run an environmentally-themed Super Bowl ad. Sunday’s 45-second spot will highlight the brand’s commitment to wind power. Turning to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, climate change may make the Olympic Marathon in challenging for some spectators, and researchers are trying to see if there is a way to lessen the impact of the heat. And athletic apparel brand Asics will use recycled clothing to make Japan’s Olympic team uniforms. 

 

BUDWEISER TEAMS UP WITH BOB DYLAN TO PROMOTE ITS COMMITMENT TO WIND POWER IN SUPER BOWL LIII AD

For the second Super Bowl in a row¹, Budweiser is giving the environment center stage with one of its TV ads, with an assist from Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.” The folk anthem song backs the spot which touts the brand’s use of wind power in its brewing operations.

According to a piece in the January 23 issue of Ad Age by E.J. Schultz, the ad — created by David of Miami — will run as a 45-second spot during the game. The 60-second version, called “Wind Never Felt Better,” shows Budweiser’s iconic Clydesdale horses galloping through a wind farm, complete with Bud-branded turbines. On-screen text states that Budweiser is “now brewed with wind power.”

 

 

Last year, Budweiser corporate parent AB InBev set a goal to ensure that by 2025 all of the electricity it purchases globally will come from renewable sources. The company is part of The Climate Group’s RE100 initiative (#RE100) through which over 160 global organizations have committed to be powered 100 percent by renewable electricity across their global operations.

Most of AB InBev’s wind power comes as result of a 2017 deal with Enel Green Power, which operates the Thunder Ranch wind farm in Oklahoma. Enel sells the electricity output delivered to the grid by a 152.5 megawatt (mW) portion of the wind farm to AB InBev, “substantially boosting the beer company’s acquisition of renewable energy,” according to a 2017 announcement. As result, it will reduce carbon dioxide emissions in an amount that is the equivalent of taking more than 85,000 U.S. vehicles off the road every year.

“For us in North America, we’re halfway [to the 2025 goal],” Anheuser-Busch VP of Sustainability Angie Slaughter told Schultz. “So, it’s a great way to bring it to our consumers and teach them about what we are doing on the sustainability front.”

 

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Angie Slaughter, Anheuser-Busch VP of Sustainability (Photo credit: Anheuser-Busch)

 

“It’s a different way to talk about quality,” offered Ricardo Marques, VP of Marketing for Core and Value brands at AB InBev. “This is about what we are doing to improve and minimize the impact on the environment and how we brew.”

The ad is not the only clean power-related activation from Budweiser during Super Bowl LIII.

It has teamed up with Drift, a startup that operates a peer-to-peer electricity marketplace that makes it easier for consumers to get access to clean energy. Bud will cover the first month’s bill for anyone who switches to Drift and uses it to swap to a sustainable energy source by February 7.

GSB’s Take: Great Green-Sports leadership from AB InBev and a terrific ad. Interestingly, in an interview earlier this month, the company’s U.S. Marketing Chief Marcel Marcondes said it would avoid anything that touches on politics with its eight Super Bowl ads. To me, this means that AB InBev thinks wind power is above or beyond politics and/or they are not afraid of any political blowback, pun intended.

 

TOKYO 2020 OLYMPIC MARATHON SPECTATORS MAY FACE CHALLENGES DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE

Grueling.

Exhausting.

Debilitating

Those adjectives are often used by people who run marathons, but are not generally associated with the fans who line the roads to watch them.

But, per an article by Katherine Kornei in the January 18 issue of Eossome spectators along the Olympic marathon route in Tokyo in August 2020 could face climate change-related health issues. Temperatures average 86°F (30°C) during the middle of the day in August, with high humidity levels.

Standing around for several hours in Tokyo isn’t ideal for people at risk of exposure to excessive heat. With that in mind, researchers recently examined weather conditions along the course to pinpoint spots where spectators’ health may be in jeopardy.

On the basis of their findings, the scientists are talking with Tokyo 2020 officials about ways to make spectators more comfortable by, for example, placing containers of shade-providing vegetation along the course or rerouting a leg of the race to a more tree-lined street.

Jennifer Vanos, PhD, an atmospheric scientist at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability in Tempe, and her colleagues collected data — including air temperature, solar radiation levels, humidity, and wind speed — in August 2016 along the Tokyo marathon course using a variety of meteorological instruments mounted on a bicycle.

 

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Jennifer Vanos, atmospheric scientist at Arizona State University (Photo credit: Arizona State University)

 

The scientists also calculated the “sky view factor” — the proportion of the sky visible at any one place — from Google Street View images to estimate the impact of structures such as buildings reradiating heat. Vanos and team then used these meteorological data in combination with estimates of human physiology to calculate a human heat load — the net amount of heat a person gains or loses. They found that hypothetical spectators along some parts of the marathon route would take in much more heat from the environment than they would lose by sweating.

Vanos and her colleagues focused on three spots, all along the second half of the course, where spectators would be exposed to a high heat load with little to no air flow.

One of these locations, the square in front of the Imperial Palace, is an open area with limited tree cover and no buildings nearby to provide shade. But it is also beautiful and has historic significance, so the chances of Olympic officials deciding to reroute the course are between slim and none. The researchers’ recommendation is to deploy water stations, fans and emergency personnel there.

 

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Tokyo’s Imperial Palace, one of the spots along the 2020 Olympic marathon route that may prove hazardous to the health of spectators due to excessive heat (Photo credit: JapanVisitor.com)

 

As for the other two areas, both with limited shade, the researchers advised installing  shade sails, trellises of vegetation, and potted trees.

These results were published in December in Science of the Total Environment.

 

GSB’s Take: We interviewed Dr. Vanos, then at Texas Tech University, in 2016. Her work on human biometeorology — the study of the effects of weather on human health — she has a particular focus on athletes — was cutting-edge then. So it is no surprise that she is leading this important research on the effects of excessive heat on fans. It’s no exaggeration to say that changes made by the Tokyo 2020 planners in response to the results generated by Vanos and her colleagues could save lives.

 

ASICS TO USE RECYCLED CLOTHING FOR JAPAN’S 2020 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC UNIFORMS

Japanese athletic apparel maker Asics is the official uniform supplier for the home team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. According to a company statement, those garments will be made of recycled clothing.

The company expects to gather approximately 30,000 items of sportswear by placing collection boxes in Asics’ stores, partner retailers and sports events across Japan. Pieces from any brand will be accepted until May 31, 2019.

 

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Saori Yoshida, a three-time Olympic wrestling champion from Japan, holds up a T-shirt she wore at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. Yoshida donated the shirt to the Asics initiative to make uniforms for the Japanese Olympic and Paralympic teams from recycled sportswear (Photo credit: Kyodo)

 

An Asics spokesperson said that the Olympic and Paralympic uniforms and shoes will contain polyester fibers extracted from the donated clothing. Consumers will be able to follow the recycling process via a newsletter to which they will have access by scanning a barcode displayed on the collection boxes. Other recyclable materials extracted from the items collected will be turned into fuel, among other uses.

The company’s statement says its uniforms-from-recycled-clothing initiative aims to “contribute to the realization of a sustainable society in line the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and its target to reduce CO₂ emissions by 2030.”

 

GSB’s Take: I can’t think of a more natural partnership than Japan-based athletic apparel maker Asics and the host country’s Olympic and Paralympic teams at Tokyo 2020. The company’s decision to make the Japan squad’s uniforms from recycled clothes and shoes is brilliant from a branding perspective. Its environmental impact will be negligible unless Asics uses the 2020 Games as a springboard to a consumer line of recycled or upcycled merchandise. Adidas, with its line of plastic ocean waste-based products through its partnership with Parley for the Oceans, offers a good model. Finally, it seems to me that Asics is slow-walking its CO₂ reduction goal — why wait until 2030? Especially when, according to the UN, the global fashion industry contributes around 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

 

¹ Budweiser’s 2018 Super Bowl spot, touted the brewer’s canned water giveaway program that spurs into action in the wake of natural disasters, like hurricanes.

 


 

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If the Most Important Green Aspects of Super Bowl LII are Two Beer TV Ads, Is That a Good Thing?

Super Bowl LII will be played in Minnesota, one of the most environmentally-conscious states in the country. Host city Minneapolis is mass-transit friendly and filled with LEED certified stadia and arenas. The Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots will do battle in LEED Gold US Bank Stadium. The game will be zero-waste and 100 percent of the energy used to power the contest will be offset. Yet, it says here that the most important green aspect of the 2018 Super Bowl may well be two beer ads — unless the NFL steps up to tell the Big Game’s green story to the audience 100+ million people.

 

Question: What does this triumvirate — Clydesdale horses, the Bud Bowl, and recent catastrophic extreme weather events — have in common?

Answer: They are each themes of Budweiser Super Bowl ads, past and immediate future. If there was a Super Bowl Advertising Hall of Fame, the brand’s ads featuring the iconic, white maned horses and the fun, computer-generated football games played by teams of beer bottles (Bud vs. Bud Light!) would both certainly be first ballot inductees.

But corporate parent AB InBev’s stablemates Budweiser and Stella Artois are going in a different direction for Sunday’s broadcast on NBC.

In “Budweiser’s Super Bowl Beer Ad Isn’t about Beer,” which ran in the January 26 issue of Environmental Leader, Jennifer Hermes reported that the brand’s 60 second Super Bowl spot is actually about…water: “[US corporate parent] Anheuser-Busch currently produces canned drinking water at its Cartersville, GA, brewery, and ships them to communities in need. This year, the company shipped nearly three million cans of emergency drinking water to areas hit by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and by the California wildfires. In total, the company says it has provided over 79 million cans of drinking water to communities in need. The Super Bowl ad tells the story of its employees in the Cartersville plant who produce the emergency drinking water. [It] features the general manager of the brewery, along with more than 20 of his local colleagues.”

 

Budweiser’s “Stand By You” water-themed Super Bowl ad (60 seconds)

 

Stella Artois’ 30 second ad, produced in partnership with water.org, features actor Patriots fan Matt Damon, who calls on beer lovers to step up to help solve the water crisis by buying a Stella beer chalice. Damon asserts that if just one percent of Super Bowl viewers purchase the glass, Stella will provide “clean water to one million people. For five years.”

 

Matt Damon stars in Stella Artois’ 30 second, water conservation-themed, Super Bowl ad

 

Why did Budweiser and Stella take this turn?

 

IT COMES DOWN TO WATER — AND EYEBALLS

Quality water is, of course, crucial to the beer brewing process. AB InBev and its U.S. subsidiary Anheuser-Busch has implemented a robust water stewardship and environmental protection program across its sprawling brewery roster.

The initiative has engaged employees, farmers, suppliers and strategic partners to devise and implement a wide range of water conservation and management measures. Anheuser-Busch says this approach helped it reduce water use across all of its U.S. breweries by nearly 50 percent over the last 10 years.

That is a BIG achievement which warrants the BIG ad spend — NBC Sports is charging $5 million dollars for a 30 second spot — on the BIG game to reach the BIGGEST television audience of the year — 111 million people watched the 2017 Super Bowl.

Reaching such a vast audience with environmentally-themed messaging is why I believe Bud and Stella Artois have co-authored the most important green story surrounding Super Bowl LII.

Oh, you might say, “I think the fact that the the NFL, the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, and US Bank Stadium are teaming up to offset 100 percent of the game’s carbon footprint via the purchase of renewable energy credits is more consequential than a couple of ads.” Or, you might opine that “Rush2Recycle, the program sponsored by PepsiCo, and promoted by ex-NFL great Hines Ward, that will help Sunday’s game be the first zero-waste^ Super Bowl, has to be considered the most important green story.”

 

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Exterior of US Bank Stadium, site of Super Bowl LII (Photo credit: SI.com)

 

While those efforts are, of course, laudable, I still go with Bud and Stella.

Because the  audience of 100 million+ people who might see the Bud and/or Stella Artois water-themed ads on NBC will likely be between 50 to 100 times greater than the number of people who learn about the zero-waste and/or the offset aspects of Super Bowl LII. That audience includes the 66,000+ fans inside US Bank Stadium, along with readers of national media outlets like Fast Company magazine, which are giving the zero-waste Super Bowl story welcome coverage.

Now, the NFL can easily wrest the “most important green story of Super Bowl LII” title away from Bud and Stella. All it needs to do is to create a public service announcement touting the green aspects of Super Bowl LII — hey, as of this writing, there are three days left; plenty of time for great content to be produced — and air it on NBC during the game.

What a BIG deal that would be! But will the NFL step up?

The stakes, said Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, founder and former president of the Green Sports Alliance and a founding director of Sport and Sustainability International (SandSI), are much higher than even the Super Bowl itself.

“As one of the most visible sporting events in the world, the Super Bowl has a unique opportunity to promote environmental literacy and reduce cultural polarization related to climate change,” said Dr. Allen Hershkowitz. “US Bank Stadium’s commitment to 100 percent renewable energy credits, ambitious zero-waste goals, and the [Minneapolis] region’s intelligent mass transit infrastructure, positions this event to be among the most carbon intelligent Super Bowls ever. The question before us is this: Will the NFL meaningfully promote this aspect of the Super Bowl story? Given the bewildering retreat from essential, science-based climate policy being enacted by the worst environmental administration in our nation’s history, a counter message by the NFL promoting progress on climate could not be more important. It has a responsibility to the world to do so.”

 

ENVIRONMENTAL MESSAGING: A WINNER FOR THE NFL

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, talks a good environmental game: “The NFL is a responsible steward of the environment in all areas of our business. Through [these zero-waste and offset projects], the League and its partners hope to set a new standard of environmental sustainability at the Super Bowl.”

But Goodell’s green talk mainly takes place in dry, easily ignorable press releases, not on Super Bowl broadcasts.

The Commish and league should go beyond press releases and talk the green talk to the widest possible audience — i.e. during the Super Bowl. Because doing so would likely be good for business.

Say what?

Hasn’t has been a tough season for the NFL: from anthem protests to “Fire the Sons of B**ches!;” from CTE to declining TV ratings#? Won’t many older fans get ticked off? Isn’t it better for a league whose ownership and fan base is seen as right-of-center to keep quiet about the environment and climate?

No, it is not.

And, again, I say this from a business building, not from the “it’s the right thing to do” point-of-view.

It is a 2016 conversation with an NFL marketing executive who preferred to remain anonymous that sticks with me. He said the one thing that kept him and his colleagues up at night the most was how to attract Millennial and Generation Z fans and keep them.

One thing that resonates with younger cohorts is the environment and climate: across the political spectrum, the 35-and-under set accepts the reality and seriousness of climate change at rates far greater than their older counterparts.

Will embracing climate and the environment be the main catalyst to turning the tide the NFL’s young fan problems? Of course not. This is a complex, multi-factorial problem and going BIG on the environment is, admittedly, not close to the most important potential solution.

But, it says here that an intelligent, clever environmentally-themed PSA will be well-received among Millennials and Gen Zers. Which would help.

Budweiser and Stella Artois, hardly fringe, left wing brands, believe leading with the environment is the right way to go. Will the NFL join them by airing a green PSA on Sunday? I wouldn’t bet* on it.

In the meantime, buy a Stella chalice and (responsibly) enjoy a Stella or a Bud in it on Super Sunday.

 

 

^ A sports event can claim “Zero-Waste” status by diverting 90 percent or more of its game day waste from landfill, most often by a combination of recycling and composting.
* I also am not betting on the game itself. My prediction? Patriots 24, Eagles 17. I hope I am wrong.
# NFL TV ratings have declined over the past three years but it still generates, by far, the biggest television audience — and not only in terms of sports programming.

 


 

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