Social Responsibility in the Beverage Alcohol Industry
The Charmer Sunbelt Group is dedicated to promoting the legal, safe and responsible consumption of beverage alcohol. To that end, CSG has been an industry leader in its creation and support of legislative and community initiatives that foster zero tolerance for underage drinking and promote responsible sale and consumption.
CSG worked with New York State Senator Jeffrey Klein and local retail associations to champion several pieces of legislation to increase penalties for fake ID usage and reward responsible sales practices. The Card Hard campaign is designed to highlight inadequacies in current laws, many of which fail to meaningfully deter efforts of those under the age of 21 who attempt to purchase beverage alcohol illegally. This legislative campaign also attempts to commend the efforts of responsible retailers who bear the complete risk of thwarting underage purchasing with few meaningful tools to discourage this behavior.
CSG’s Reliable Churchill, LLLP, in partnership with the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland, created and produced “Someone Like You,” a 10-minute video that can be used by educators to discourage teen consumption of alcohol by sharing the terrible (and preventable) consequences of poor decision making. In 2013, Reliable Churchill was awarded the “Golden Bar Award” from Diageo for its work on this video. It is CSG’s hope that the video will be a useful and powerful addition to mandatory drug and alcohol education programs nationwide. CSG will continue its effort to engage community and political leaders on the importance of such educational programs in this and other markets over the months and years to come.
CSG, Brown-Forman and the Responsible Retailing Forum also have created a grassroots responsible-retailing campaign, which is expected to launch in two communities in 2014. The Responsible Retailing Initiative provides free mystery shops to on- and off-premise retail licensees of beverage alcohol to provide owners and managers with feedback about how well their employees are doing in their attempts to prevent sales to underage purchasers. Sophisticated and confidential feedback will be provided to selected accounts with the goal of identifying shortcomings and helping retailers to develop strong protocols to eliminate the risk of unintentionally selling to minors.
CSG has also partnered with its suppliers and the Federal Trade Commission, the Century Council, the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA), and the American Beverage Licensees (ABL) to support the “We Don’t Serve Teens” campaign. CSG companies distributed point-of-purchase materials to local retailers and community organizations with key responsibility messages, and produced radio PSAs by Nas and Governor Andrew Cuomo urging all not to provide alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age.
Additionally, CSG companies have produced radio, television and print public service campaigns in which legislators, regulators and community leaders join with CSG’s presidents to urge responsible consumption of beverage alcohol.
The leaders who have joined this effort include:
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
- New York Senator Charles Schumer
- Delaware Governor Jack Markell
- Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper
- Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz
- Delaware Beverage Alcohol Commissioner Jack Cordrey
- Former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine
- Former Pennsylvania Liquor Control Chairman Skip Brion
- Former Governor Edward Rendell
- Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell
- Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot
- Former Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Chair Esther Vassar
- Former Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Chair PJ Stapleton
- South Carolina Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell
- Voice of the New York Yankees John Sterling
- Baseball Hall-of-Famer Goose Gossage
- New York Yankee Jorge Posada
- Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Theismann
- Pro Bowl quarterback and CBS radio and television personality Boomer Esiason
- Former Maryland Congressman, basketball player and Rhodes Scholar Tom McMillen
CSG also dedicates a significant portion of its delivery fleet to responsible consumption. CSG delivery trucks carrying the messages “Make Responsibility a Family Matter” and “Support Zero Tolerance for Underage Drinking and Drunk Driving” can be seen on trucks throughout communities in which CSG operates.
Community Affairs and Charitable Activities
The Charmer Sunbelt Group is widely known for both its corporate and member company philanthropic activities.
Each year, CSG presents the popular Wine and Wishes wine tasting and auction that benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York. Now in its eighth year, Wine and Wishes has raised close to $4 million dollars to make dreams come true for many children with life-threatening medical conditions. The event is hosted by Charles Merinoff, CSG's chairman and CEO.
CSG has contributed $500,000 to the New York Wine and Culinary Center. The center showcases New York food, wine and agriculture, and links these industries with the state's hospitality, tourism and educational resources. CSG has also donated over $1,000,000 to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), in support of its mission to provide the finest culinary education to its students. Merinoff serves on the CIA's board of trustees and advancement committee.
CSG is an active supporter of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which provides leadership development programs, merit-based scholarships and support to students attending the nation's historically black colleges and universities.
Member Company Activities
Associated Distributors, CSG's member company in Virginia, is a major sponsor of both the Chesapeake Wine Festival, a nonprofit event that supports several local charities in the area, and A Holiday Salute, a program in which the local ABC TV affiliate records personal video messages with deployed service members. Associated Distributors also supports the JT Walk and Beach Party, a charity event that raises money for ALS research.
In South Carolina, Ben Arnold Beverage Company recently held a food drive and donated $5,000 to a food bank in Fairfield County. The executive team also supports the Fairfield County Foster Child/Family Program, in which the team adopts a foster family and provides gifts for the Christmas holiday. Each Thursday, Ben Arnold employees deliver meals to and spend time with the poor and elderly of the area, in conjunction with the Fairfield County Center on Aging and Meals on Wheels.
Since 2008, New York's Empire Merchants has sponsored Bid Against Hunger and Summer in the City, fundraiser events of City Harvest, which helps to feed over one million of the city's hungry each year. In 2013, 25 associates participated in the Autism Speaks Walk at Citi Field to raise money for autism research. Empire Merchants also supports Toys for Tots, collecting toys each year for the needy.
R&R Marketing in New Jersey has a longstanding tradition of helping charities in the state. In 2013, a team of 15 associates participated in a home-building project for Habitat for Humanity in Irvington. R&R has also been a long-time supporter of the Bride's Run Charity, which provides food and clothing to the homeless. Monthly donations from the company go to charities such as Avon Walk for Cancer, the GI GO Fund, Bike MS, and Camp Hope.
In Florida, Premier Beverage funds community-directed messages during holiday and graduation seasons about responsible consumption. The company supports the Broward Partnership for the Homeless and is one of the largest donors to Step Up for Students, which provides scholarships for low-income students. Premier is a longstanding sponsor for the fundraising initiatives of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and also supports Miami Children's Hospital. For 15 years, Premier has been the title sponsor of the American Lung Association's Las Olas Wine and Food Festival.
With proceeds from its Pioneer Classic Golf Tournament, Alliance Beverage Distributing Company in Arizona recently donated $10,000 to the Phoenix Rescue Mission Center and $25,000 each to the University of Arizona Cancer Center and the Sarver Heart Center. The company also donated $20,000 to the Dorothy Foundation, which works to fight cancer.