Title: Consumers expect brands to do more,
says Chivas marketing lead

15 January 2016

By Matt Eaton

Chivas Regal last night concluded the Hong Kong leg of a global search to give one promising social enterprise the chance to secure US$1 million in funding and see its vision come to life.

The Venture; the brand’s global search to support social entrepreneurs, is a program that hopes to see young entrepreneurs from around the world succeed in business and have a positive impact on the industry they represent. Its a big investment for the brand. This year five Hong Kong social enterprises were selected to pitch for the opportunity to represent the city at the global finals – with an innovative recruitment solution Jobdoh beating out four others for the chance at the final prize.

We sat down with Pernod Ricard community marketing manager Patrick Fong to ask how The Venture came about and what impact it has had on the Chivas brand.

Why social entrepreneurs? What’s the link back to the Chivas brand?

Consumers expect brands to do more than sell a product; they want brands to empower them, to help them do things in new and better ways. What’s more, they’re tuned in to the world around them and see opportunities to have a positive impact while earning success – they want their work to be meaningful and they want to put more back into the world than they take out. So in that sense, social entrepreneurship and the belief that business can be a force for good may be one of the defining features of new generations. We see enormous opportunity for the brand to help accelerate the growth of this movement in an authentic, collaborative way through an initiative like The Venture.

Does it speak to the Chivas core audience, or are you hoping to look beyond Chivas core customers and expand out?

We see an opportunity to connect with our customers in ways that are meaningful to them by championing social entrepreneurship. Our first step is to listen: what’s important to social entrepreneurs, how do they see the opportunities before them, and how can we support them. Our second is a significant commitment in the form of a new global fund; we share their passion and want to enable aspiring social entrepreneurs to find success. Chivas wants to expand out and inspire and support a future generation of social entrepreneurs across the globe. That’s why we’ve created The Venture and are offering our significant resources to the social entrepreneurship movement worldwide.

Does Chivas see this is as more than just sponsorship? Are you hoping to work with these social enterprises beyond the judging process?

It’s worth saying that many social entrepreneurs are not looking for a significant investment. Also, The Venture seeks to support social entrepreneurs who are at start-up or growth stage. We feel that a share of the $1m fund will help most companies at these stages to test their concepts, gain customer traction or provide working capital to help further develop their business. Outside of the financial investment the finalists receive a wealth of added value. Each market finalist has the opportunity to pitch their business idea to global business experts and receive advice and feedback.

Internationally Chivas has partnered with Fast Company for entrepreneurial tips, what activity locally in Hong Kong are you doing? Any partnerships with media or startup community?

We’ve built relationships with local startup and co-working spaces to raise awareness of the opportunities available and gain insight into what these communities are really looking for. We’ve worked with organizations such as SOW Asia, Garage Society, and Asia Value Advisors, to help create a platform for Hong Kong Social Entrepreneurs to exchange ideas and share resources.

How did the program perform last year? Do you see as something that you will continue to do in the long term?

In its first year, The Venture received over 1000 applications from 16 countries, and we are hopeful that we’ll see even more social entrepreneurs apply in the second year given that we have more than 25 countries taking part. We don’t see The Venture as a one-off initiative and wish to continue to help fund budding social entrepreneurs for as long as they seek our support. Our plan is to develop the platform year on year, with input from the social entrepreneurs and partners we worked with in Year 1. Although we can’t say we will definitely do this for the next twenty years, the plan is stay committed and dedicated to making a change in the way that makes the most sense. Ultimately, our goals remain the same: to help elevate the profile of social entrepreneurs from around the world, create tangible change by providing the most promising with funding and support to grow their business and to act as a catalyst to grow this important movement.

Source: Marketing Interactive