Skip to main content

Almost 10 years ago, Community Affairs Manager Lynn Quayle said Constellation Brands started formalizing their corporate CSR program with small volunteer activations and local food drives. Today, they’re refocusing their program to be more strategic than ever: by aligning their family of brands with their CSR efforts.

According to Lynn, their brand alignment efforts started several years ago through “Nourishing Neighbors” — one of their established CSR programs.

Since 2014, Lynn and her team have honed Nourishing Neighbors, a volunteer initiative to fight hunger in the Constellation Brands communities. Nearly 2,000 employees donate their time to this initiative every September to fight hunger across the globe.

And, a few years ago, they saw an opportunity to expand that program in partnership with the brand team for their Tom Gore wine brand. As part of this partnership, for every bottle of Tom Gore wine sold, Constellation Brands would donate $1 to fight hunger in their communities.

“We were able to create a Nourishing Neighbors fund that supported food banks in our different locations where we had sales teams pushing the Tom Gore brand,” said Lynn. “Tom Gore himself, who the brand is named for, is also a farmer. So, the brand was well aligned towards our goals for fighting hunger.”

This partnership marked the first time they took an established program from their CSR pillar and worked with their sales and marketing team to impact sales for one of their brands.

Pairing the Tom Gore brand with Nourishing Neighbors showed them how successful coordinating CSR initiatives could be.

“We were able to grow placements of our Tom Gore brand in store locations from 50 percent to 90 percent over the course of the month we ran the campaign,” she said. “It was a successful example of having our brands aligned with what we’re doing from a corporate CSR standpoint.”

The partnership with their sales and marketing team was successful, because they were able to provide logistic and monetary support from their CSR efforts to support a sales period in which their brand team was in need of a marketing program.

Recently, they’ve expanded into partnering through cause marketing efforts — which Lynn said have been a large driver for their individual brands.

For example, Lynn said the 2019 Modelo Fighting Spirit cause marketing campaign was an instance where their individual brand drove the relationship with the corporate CSR team.

“From a corporate CSR perspective, we were able to play off that campaign,” she said. “Modelo partnered with the International Rescue Committee and Leave No Veteran Behind. And, at the corporate level, we were able to include those organizations in our giving initiatives.”

The marketing team took the lead on the partnerships with the organizations and from a sales & marketing perspective. The CSR team worked the campaign into their employee match program and brought representatives from those non-profits into several of their global locations so employees could learn more and direct their dollars to them.

As they evolved how they work with their family of brands, Lynn has had to institute processes to help her team communicate with brand stakeholders.

“We don’t have one team that we can go to for these things,” said Lynn. “There are a lot of different players and moving parts that we have to figure out how to work through. Some of our brands have large budgets to accomplish these things, and others do not.”

To navigate those communications challenges as they expand this work, Lynn and her team put together a team of 15 employees from different levels, locations, and business units that participate in monthly calls to discuss their giving back initiatives. She said those calls have been invaluable for their communications channels.

The calls are just one way she and her team have focused on doing a better job at communicating their core initiatives and developing relationships across the organization so brand stakeholders know how to get involved.

However, they still face one big challenge: Managing the voice of individual brands with corporate CSR goals.

According to Lynn, that’s one thing they have to be conscientious of, because their corporate and individual brands don’t always go hand in hand.

“Sometimes the brand team wants to keep a separation there,” she said. “It’s important to work with our brand marketing teams, sales and operations, and any department that our initiatives touch to figure out what works for them as well. We don’t have a one-size-fits-all strategy around how we work together.”

To help overcome that challenge, Lynn and her team focused on making it easy for their family of brands to get involved in their CSR work.

She said coming up with a simple, easy to execute partnership strategy with their CSR program has provided major benefits. “We now have different functional projects that we have that can easily translate over to different brands,” she said. “Then it’s just plug and play. Having those set up in advance so we’re not recreating the wheel every time is invaluable.”

Now, Lynn and her team are working on the next phase of their program growth and alignment.

After a department transition in December 2019 which cemented a centralized CSR function at the corporate level, Lynn said they have a bigger voice in the company and more support and alignment across their leaders.

“We will continue to see our program grow in the near future and be aligned to our business priorities so we can really have an impact,” she said.

But, for anyone just getting started on work like this, Lynn emphasized the importance of being flexible.

“Be open and understanding of the obstacles that are going to come up,” she said. “Individual brands have their own voice and their own brand standards outside of our Constellation Brands corporate brand, so you have to be flexible to figure out a way that you can work together so you’re not forcing that corporate brand across the board.”

Interested in learning more about the ESG & CSR Board?

Get in touch