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Doug Sanborn leads MillerCoors' LGBT efforts
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2011-03-02

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Chicago Beverage Systems’ Mary Lou Polcyn, Sidetrack co-owner Chuck Hyde and Doug Sanborn at a recent MillerCoors check presentation. Photo by Hal Baim


MillerCoors' LGBT Diversity Programming is a comprehensive, integrated marketing initiative that combines advertising, on-premise promotions and community outreach on a national basis—and it certainly has a local impact.

MillerCoors' "Great Cents Campaign" was a brainstorm of the local sales team, which includes MillerCoors sales employees and their local distributor, Chicago Beverage Systems, along with the MillerCoors Chicago City Council—a group of employees who ensure the company fulfills its commitment to giving back to the local communities.

The MillerCoors sales team partnered with local LGBT bars and donated 15 cents per unit sold from Pride weekend last June through October, 2010. Plus, MillerCoors let the local retailers choose which charities would receive the funding, thus, "we were able to truly invest in our community by working with our marketplace partners," said Doug Sanborn, the brand manager of multicultural and LGBT relations for MillerCoors. "Our goal was not to simply write a check; we wanted to partner with our retailers and empower consumers to make a difference in their communities as well."

And they did. MillerCoors presented checks Feb. 16 for more than $15,000.

Both SABMiller and Coors Brewing Company had extensive LGBT outreach programs for many years before the joint venture. "LGBT outreach has evolved from a focus on community outreach to include integrated marketing initiatives and sales outreach," said Sanborn, who has been living in Chicago for two years and working at MillerCoors for 10 years.

He noted that MillerCoors recently hired an LGBT advertising agency.

MillerCoors also supports the Matthew Shepard Foundation, GLAAD, HRC, NAGAAA, gay rodeos, women's softball, and several Pride events throughout the country.

"Chicago Beverage Systems is our lead distributor in the LGBT market of Chicago," Sanborn said. "Together, we have a very aggressive plan to implement community programs that engage our consumers.

"The MillerCoors LGBT and Allies Group for Employee Resources (LAGER) provides support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and allies group for Employee Resources to develop a safe and supportive workplace in which all employees are treated equally. LAGER works in partnership with other MillerCoors affinity groups and outside corporate LGBT Employee Resource Groups and provides volunteerism and support within the LGBT community.

"We are very sincere, not only our internal LGBT employees, but also our community and consumers. At MillerCoors, we believe that with great beer comes great responsibility—and this is just one way in which we are contributing to the communities where we live, work and sell our great beers."

Sanborn said MillerCoors will be working with the Center on Halsted again this year to implement its third year of holiday meals. "We began this partnership as soon as we moved to Chicago," he said. "It allows us to reach out to the community to provide over 200 meals and clothing during the holidays."

MillerCoors also supported the annual Equality Illinois Gala, and is a major sponsor for the annual, weeklong Gay Softball World Series, which will be held in the Chicago area this summer.

"Our partnerships, with our distributors and business partners, have numerous other events throughout the year as well," Sanborn said.

"We just began a partnership with Diversity Platinum to benefit the community nationally. It is a reward card that gives the owner of the card a chance to donate part of the proceeds to a charity. The Matthew Shepard Foundation [and] The Trevor Project are two of our national partners benefiting from this new venture."

In its 2011 ads for the LGBT marketplace with Coors Light, Sanborn said the company used its employee network to help construct the template. "We asked our team what 'out' meant to them. Their one-word answers reflect what 'out' means to them personally," he said. "We are very happy to utilize our LGBT employees in helping make this great campaign. The Matthew Shepard pendant is featured on the models in our advertising, and in its new promotional poster, one of the models is wearing an 'Erase Hate' T-shirt."

Prior to joining the company, Sanborn held sales and management positions for Fortune 500 companies, including Campbell Soup Co, and Dr. Pepper/Seven Up. A native of Alpena, Mich., Sanborn graduated from the University of Michigan. He now lives in Palos Park, Ill.


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