The harmful use of alcohol is a growing issue in South Africa that has a significant impact on both individuals and communities. In 2017, alcohol attributed to 1 in every 10 deaths of South African males (WHO, 2018). As part of a broader effort to accelerate the reduction of harmful drinking worldwide, the AB InBev Foundationis funding the implementation of public health interventions in the Alexandra Township of Johannesburg, that are informed and implemented by a locally led steering committee.
After signing an MOU with local officials, the Alexandra steering committee identified the need for a brand to unite their upcoming programs and establish a meaningful connection with the community of Alexandra. To develop this brand, the AB InBev Foundation partnered with McCann Global Health and McCann1886.
Secondary research and interviews with key community stakeholders revealed that Alexandra community members didn’t recognize or appreciate the impact of alcohol, that alcohol was being used as an everyday escape from challenges within the community. Instead, community members felt that the issue was attributable in part to a lack of role models, a lack of opportunity, and an overall lack of pride in Alexandra. With the expansion of Alexandra in recent years, its rich identity has become overshadowed by the perception that Alexandra as a “place you pass through on your way to something better”. Alcohol harm wasn’t the core problem—it was a symptom of the deeper issue of a broken community identity.
Therefore, a brand rooted directly in alcohol harm reduction would fail to resonate with the community. It was clear that a brand that could effectively unite the harm reduction initiatives needed to play a bigger role. So, McCann set out to develop an identity that would elevate role models, highlight opportunities, and ultimately play the meaningful role of reviving pride and confidence in the residents of Alexandra.
The resulting brand is I Love Alex.
I Love Alex seeks to overcome the use of alcohol as an escape by establishing and highlighting that residents of Alexandra are a part of something bigger and better.
Under the I Love Alex brand, the steering committee will be implementing initiatives that seek to decrease drinking and driving and reduce binge drinking, violence related to alcohol consumption, and underage drinking. Part of a larger project of initiatives designed to improve the community and eliminate alcohol, I Love Alex contributes to the advancement of the community.
Alexandra’s branding is a part of a larger global initiative to identify and scale best practices in alcohol harm reduction. The AB InBev Foundation is funding similar interventions in Belgium, Brazil, Mexico, the United States, and China through local steering committees.