Budweiser Goes To SXSW For Innovative Ideas To End Drinking And Driving For Good

From Helen Mirren to “hackathons,” the beer brand is making safety a bigger part of its marketing strategy.

We know Budweiser has made responsible drinking a priority because Helen Mirren told us so right in the middle of the Super Bowl. Now the brand is taking the issue of drinking and driving to Austin for SXSW in the hopes of enlisting young innovative folks to help make the world’s roads a safer place.


As part of the campaign “Tackle Impossible: A Force for Safer Roads,” Budweiser is hosting “hackathons” where participants spend three days collaborating in teams, and working with industry leaders on creative ideas to end drinking and driving. The team with the best idea will get $25,000 in seed funding and the chance to work with Budweiser to implement their idea, including mentorship and a marketing budget.

Global Budweiser Director Marcela Garcia says the idea comes from the brand’s belief that the best ideas get even bigger and bolder when people work collaboratively. “That’s why we’re hosting a series of hackathons to bring young adults together with successful entrepreneurs and road safety experts to collaborate on smart driving ideas,” says Garcia. “We believe young adult entrepreneurs are the key to developing solutions and Budweiser has the resources to help them build and execute their ideas.”

The program first launched back in January in Toronto with a hackathon hosting more than 100 young people. Garcia says the brand was so encouraged by what they saw that the SXSW campaign is aimed to build on that momentum. Budweiser is bringing the winning Canadian team to SXSW to present their idea, and using SXSW as a platform to solicit even more ideas that will be incorporated into the next hackathon to be hosted this November in Boston.

In an email, members of the winning Canadian team heading to SXSW said this is an example of a brand putting its money where its mouth is. The team of Alexander Hines, Bing Han, Jeff Myers, Steve Van Mierlo, and Igor Romanenko won $25,000 in seed money for their idea around finding designated drivers.

“From our own personal experiences, we found that having a designated driver is the most convenient way to find a safe ride home,” the group write in an email to Co.Create. “The challenge is that most people don’t want to volunteer to be the designated driver for their friends. Our idea is built around an incentive program that compensates designated drivers through a gaming process. We’re calling it ‘SQUADD’ and we think it’s a great solution to encourage people to be a designated driver, while also giving them an opportunity to have a fun experience and connect with each other.”

The brand is also hosting an SXSW Interactive event on March 12, that will showcase the Canadian team’s idea, as well as feature talks from Precision partner Teddy Goff, Sama and Laxmi CEO Leila Janah, AOL’s Global Chief Creative Officer JC Oliver, and Percolate co-founder James Gross.


Outside its event, the brand is encouraging SXSW attendees to share their own ideas for safer roads through the Bud twitter handle and hashtag #TackleImpossible, as well as offering free pedicab and Lyft rides to those who’ve been conferencing too hard to drive home.

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.