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    Żubr. It gives nature some peace

    Urszula Czerniawska-Kapeluch | Żubr Senior Brand Manager at Kompania Piwowarska

    Nature is one of the contributors to our market success. Żubr has earned a very strong position, and we want to repay nature for what we got from it. That is why a few years ago the Żubr team decided to support endangered species.

    Published on 21.12.2022

    Photo credit: Rafał Siderski

    Żubr was one of the local brands of the Dojlidy Brewery in Białytsok, which at the beginning of the 2000s joined Kompania Piwowarska. That’s when it was decided that the brand will be promoted across Poland. The power of Żubr lied in three aspects. First of all, as a species that was extinct and then reintroduced, the bison (żubr in Polish) has become a truly royal animal in Poland. Second of all, it was relevant for the Podlasie region. And third of all, it is connected to nature, which was important from the consumer perspective.

    Thinking about the holidays, consumers were looking for a moment of rest. A vacation abroad was not a popular option at that time, nor an easily available one. Our consumers usually spent their holidays in rented cabins or tents, somewhere by a lake or forest, surrounded by nature. To some extent, it is the same today. Instead of a mountain trek, they go fishing. What matters most is peace and quiet, and contemplating nature – our Żubr has always fit perfectly into that.

    A successful combination

    The brand’s message has been consistently built around nature. Next to Żubr, which is always the main character, and the forest that serves as background for all the ads, it features Polish flora and fauna. Foxes, wolves, squirrels, badgers – every year, nature is one of the two key elements of Żubr’s advertising. The second one, is typically Polish sense of humour based on word games, developed in the People’s Poland period. Messages with double meaning helped avoid censorship, entertained the masses, and annoyed the unpopular authorities. Years later, becoming an inseparable part of Żubr’s language, they won the hearts of Poles. It will not be an understatement to say that there are no adult Poles who do not know any of Żubr’s ads. Our slogans have become an element of pop culture and everyday Polish. “It’s nice to sit with Żubr” is one of the most popular slogans.

    The combination of nature and double meaning turned out to be successful. Żubr has earned a very strong position, becoming the leader of the beer market, and has been maintaining this position for many years. It is an unusual situation, especially for our industry, which is so competitive and saturated with many brands. We are very proud of that and have no intention to stop or change the concept – we have been working with the titans of Polish advertising, the brand in its current form in nearly 20 years old, and we continue to create new stories.

    Give back to nature what’s natural

    What has had a negative impact on Polish nature for years, is the fact that it has become a very polarizing subject used by media to drive social conflict. On the one hand, we have killer hunters, and ecologists chained to trees on the other. There was a lack of neutral topics, and that’s exactly what endangered species turned out to be – our endangered species, our pride. National parks are our pride, lynxes are our pride, bison are our pride. That’s why the images of endangered animals replaced Żubr on the brand’s packaging, which was very well received by the consumers. Every year, during the “Żubr Saves Endangered Species” campaign, they send us photos of their can collections, asking on social media where they can get a can with the hoopoe or wolf.

    We have been supporting Polish nature and endangered species for four years. Every year, as the Żubr Fund, we donate one million zlotys for that purpose. We joined forces with WWF and provided a significant financial boost for the Białowieża National Park. Currently we are diversifying our activities working with various smaller entities since 2021. We talk to scientists, national parks, NGOs. Prior to every specific project. We conduct extensive research. It is important for us that what we do is justified on the merits and constitutes an optimal environmentally friendly solution. Donating funds is our responsibility – we want it to support Polish nature and endangered species, enabling usually unavailable activities.

    Connections that support nature

    We are very happy that different associations, activists, scientists consider Żubr a brand that rally wants to help and support Polish nature. We do our best to make sure that the other party feels and knows we are a reliable and trustworthy partner, so the relationship we have built allows us to talk openly and look for ideas for joint projects.

    We encourage non-governmental organizations and researchers to contact us with their ideas, which we as the Żubr brand could support. We know everything there is about beer and marketing, and we are genuinely interested in nature and environmental protection, but we are not scientist. We are often unaware of solutions that are being developed or already exist. That is how we found out about the algorithm that aggregates and analyses different types of data regarding animals – both video and audio recordings. It is the result of work of scientists from the Mammal Research Institute of the Polish Academy of Science in Białowieża. Last year, we joined forces to execute a project the goal of which was to protect bats, and they contacted us. They managed to create the above-mentioned algorithm, but they are unable to “overcome” the hardware issues. We will finance a specialist computer for the institute -it will be the first system of that type in Poland, and only third in the world. It is another step for science and nature, and for us a great chance to support the activities we care about.

    Wanting to help organizations that save injured wild animals, we were looking for a specialist rehab centre to support. Unfortunately, some of those centres does not operate in a fully ethical way – indeed, they help these animals survive, but by creating a mini zoo, forcing them to stay among people. We called several of those facilities, we checked them thoroughly, and ultimately chose Leśne Przytulisko. Their story touched the Żubr team the most. At first, the Żubr Fund donated 25 thousand zlotys to Leśne Przytulisko. Having consulted the team and learning the needs of the facility, we decided to support them with additional 75 thousand. Without informing them of our plans, we organized a video conference with the representative of Leśne Przytulisko, and only then informed her of the actual purpose of the call. She was so touched that soon we were all crying tears of joy. She instantly came up with a million ideas how to use the received funds and help animals. It is very reassuring to see the genuine joy of people who often sacrifice their own time and life to protect wild animals and nature.

    Taking advantage of the scale

    We are very pleased that as the Żubr brand, Kompania Piwowarska, and particularly the employees of Kompania Piwowarska, we have a chance to find and support such people and organizations. It gives us hope – especially in the context of the current state of Polish nature and the climate crisis. We are aware of the fact that we are speeding in a truck with no brakes, and it is the kind of people we support who are trying to stop it. Every year, the Żubr Fund donates a million zlotys to support nature but, in fact, it is a drop in the seas of needs. Not much will change, if we – employees and consumers – do not change our behaviour and attitude. People live very comfortably now, but often it is at the expense of excessive exploitation of natural resources, and the results of that become more and more visible.

    We are aware of the massive scale of Żubr. We are a gigantic brand and reach many consumers who are not considered eco-friendly, even though they often live in small towns or villages, closer to Polish nature than us working in offices. They have nature withing their reach, so we want to spark their interest in our activities. We aim to carry out campaigns that will generate proper buzz, believing that if we get them interested, they will start paying more attention to what is going on in their surroundings. If nature is ever mentioned on the news, it is usually negative information. We feel that we need to give people hope and show that there is a lot of positive things going on in terms of environmental protection.

    While executing current projects, we already think and talk about what is ahead of us. We would definitely like to take care of animals killed on the roads. It seems to us like the present system warning drivers about wild animals does not work at all – there is a lot of road signs, not a lot of animals, and yet they still get killed. Even though we realize that this is a multi-layered project that requires the engagement of many parties, we hope that we will find a way to scale the right solution in cooperation with scientists. We are also exploring potentials ways of helping the Odra River to bring it back to the state from before last year’s catastrophe. As the Żubr Fund, we started in Podlasie, now we want to expand to other regions of Poland.

    Nowadays, the biggest challenge is the fact that nature simply needs some peace and quiet, and we are trying to give it exactly that. We need green areas where animals can function safely, and different types of plants can grow peacefully. The best way to do that is by purchasing pieces of land and giving them back to nature. Nature needs space without any human interference.