Press Release
HEINEKEN USA and TEAM Coalition:
Making Responsibility a Fan Favorite

Business growth and sustainability go hand in hand at HEINEKEN and our ‘Brewing a Better World’ platform encompasses six business priorities: water stewardship, reducing CO2 emissions, sourcing sustainably, advocating responsible consumption, promoting health and safety, and growing with communities.

We're big fans moderation at HEINEKEN USA, and we’re always looking for ways to help consumers with responsible decision-making and moderate alcohol consumption. That’s why we joined Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management (TEAM) Coalition in February 2015 -- the non-profit organization shares our commitment to promote responsible drinking and positive fan behavior at sports and entertainment facilities.

We sat down with Jill Pepper, TEAM Coalition’s executive director, to find out how they’re helping us brew a better world.

HEINEKEN USA (H): Tell us about TEAM Coalition.
Jill Pepper (J): TEAM is a non-profit organization with 24 dedicated members, including HEINEKEN USA. Put simply, our primary goal is to prevent drunk driving while promoting positive fan behavior. We aim to reach fans – people who attend sporting events, concerts and other large-scale gatherings – and provide reminders to drink responsibly. We accomplish this through employee trainings, on-site activations and direct interaction with fans. HEINEKEN USA is a natural partner for TEAM Coalition since they’re equally committed to making responsible consumption and moderation aspirational to consumers, as demonstrated by their ‘Enjoy Heineken Responsibly’ campaign for example.

H: How long has TEAM been focused on promoting responsibility and what are some lessons you’ve learned in that time?
J: TEAM Coalition efforts began in the 1980s when it was a program managed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but we became a 501(c)(3) in 2001. A complicated relationship exists between alcohol and passionate individuals cheering for their favorite team or performer. Through the years, we’ve learned that there is a direct correlation between the responsible service of alcohol and responsible consumption. Facilities and venues have a great deal of control over fan behavior throughout the event experience, and we work with TEAM members to ensure they’re doing everything they can to promote responsibility. We’ve also learned that it’s more difficult to reach the younger (21+) consumers in physical settings, so we’re working to move our message online and influence more fan behavior in that way.

H: Designated driving plays a critical role in post-event fan safety. What is TEAM Coalition’s approach to designated driving?
J: Our designated driver program is an awareness campaign, and we wouldn’t be able to do it on our own. We’ve seen corporations take a more hands-on role in bringing about positive change, choosing causes that align with their core business activities. We work with TEAM Coalition members like HEINEKEN USA to establish on-site designated driver booths, tables, kiosks, signage, etc. (the program manifests itself in many ways), where fans can take a pledge to be the designated driver of their group. The pledge is often associated with a reward of some sort, like a free soft drink. It’s amazing to see how engaged fans are in the program, and we think TEAM Coalition members play a big role in that. Fans like to feel recognized by their favorite companies and in turn we can create a more honest dialogue about the issue of drunk driving.

H: What impact has this designated driver approach had to-date?
J: We’ve seen a truly heartening evolution in the relationship between fans and the issue of drunk driving. As we’ve begun to show up at more events, we’ve noticed higher engagement and a more in-depth level of commitment from fans. In fact, in each of the last three years, we have seen a significant growth in the total number of sports and entertainment fans who have made the pledge to prevent drunk driving – either at the event or through an online form. In 2017, 1,114,799 people pledged to be responsible. We’ve also helped sports and concert facilities and their operators better understand the role they play in the issue. We’re tackling the issue of drunk driving on multiple fronts, and the progress we’ve seen has been at a critical, yet foundational, level.

H: What is your perspective on TEAM Coalition’s new relationship with the New Jersey Devils?
J: Like HEINEKEN USA, we want to ensure that fans get home safely. We’ve partnered with HEINEKEN USA for the Major League Soccer (MLS) season, and we’re now extending our partnership from soccer to hockey. This year marks the first time HEINEKEN USA is a partner with the New Jersey Devils designated driver program, helping to make games safer and more secure for all attending and supporting hockey at the Prudential Center. This effort is a testament to the importance of having brands like HEINEKEN USA on our side, and the brand’s dedication to the safety of its consumers. I think you can expect to see classic TEAM Coalition designated driver programming in this partnership, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it evolves beyond that.

H: New Year’s resolutions can be tough. What tips do you have for consumers who are looking to moderate their alcohol consumption in 2018 and beyond?
J: Always add food to the mix, know what you’re drinking, and most importantly: have a plan to get home safely.

Jill Pepper is the executive director of TEAM Coalition, having joined the team in 2002. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University and her MBA from MIT.

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