Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS), parent company to consumer brands including Lucozade Sport, is among the latest corporations to launch a sport-led social change initiative. The company’s B Active programme, created in partnership with Active Communities Network (ACN), aims to improve the lifestyles of young people in less advantaged communities, providing them with access to regular sport and physical activity. B Active has already reached 4,000 people across north and south London, Manchester, Belfast, Hull and Newport. Sport Industry Group sat down with Michelle Norman, head of external affairs and sustainability at Lucozade Ribena Suntory, to discover more about the plans.
What is the thinking behind B Active? What’s it all about?
B Active is a national programme which is currently running in five cities across the UK: London, Manchester, Hull, Belfast and Newport. It is run by Active Communities Network in association with Lucozade Ribena Suntory and is designed to get 16-24 year olds from disadvantaged communities into sport and physical activity. Over 4,000 participants are already active nationwide, including 700 young people who are going beyond participation to seek accreditation in vocationally recognised qualifications through the programme.
And what is Lucozade Ribena Suntory’s role in the project?
Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS) is the funding partner of B Active. The programme is the first beneficiary of The Movement Fund which is part of the company’s health and wellbeing programme. We have dedicated resources to create a launch event in each of our chosen cities as well as a summer showcase to celebrate the fantastic progress the programme has made in the few months since its inception.
Sport is a powerful vehicle and is central to a lot of community projects. Why did you choose to use sport as your vehicle as opposed to, say, music? Why does sport work so well with this community initiative?
Sport and exercise is central to our business and our role is to have a positive impact on the lives of our consumers by providing them with a responsible choice of drinks, inspiring them to lead active lifestyles. Sport is a really effective way to engage with communities and I think the age group we are targeting respond best to opportunities to get more active, inspired by others around them. Research has shown that this peer group respond best to word of mouth promotion and so it was important that we let the campaign grow organically through peer-to-peer endorsement. It’s very much the case that when young people leave school they are left with fewer options for exercise and especially options that are affordable so we’ve taken away those boundaries and made sport and activity accessible for all.
A number of your brands are very active in professional sport and top-level sport sponsorship. How does this project fit with that side of things?
We encourage our employees and our consumers to live a healthier way of life, and we work with like-minded partners to make a positive impact on the world around us; we encourage colleagues to volunteer through B Active too. LRS is dedicated to supporting the communities in which we live and work, encouraging people to live well and thrive. Our B Active programme and Lucozade Sport’s Made to Move campaign are just some of the ways in which we’re doing just that. We wholeheartedly believe in the physical, social and mental benefits of sport; in particular with the often overlooked 16-24 year old bracket, We’re looking to provide these young people with the opportunity to gain access to sport and forge new opportunities for them to develop essential life skills.
It’s notable that the programme’s delivery is very clean, with quite a low level of brand visibility. Why have you taken that approach?
The quality of the programme and its delivery and impact into the community is of primary importance to us, and that is underpinned by the programme’s identity ‘B Active’. Where it makes sense we will utilise our corporate identity (Lucozade Ribena Suntory) or our individual brands to support the programme’s aims, or the prominence of events. We know that participation is often enhanced when we utilise the power of a trusted brand like Lucozade Sport.
What are the future plans for the programme?
This is year one of a three-year programme so we look forward to expanding in to new cities and reaching more people who can benefit from the initiative. An academic partner will also undertake a three-year piece of research to closely examine behavioural change over this period to better inform government policy in this area.