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Sports, music & a little quirkiness drive Heineken’s success story

01-March-2013
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Sports, music & a little quirkiness drive Heineken’s success story

Urging beer lovers to attend fashionable nights with big beats and drinking within limits as sunrise belongs to moderate drinkers, opening the world of gun-slinging cowboys and Russian tsars to coming on a legendary date; Heineken has gone beyond borders to transform the culture of drinking. It is a popular saying that, ‘In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria’. This thought is rejoiced by beer lovers across continents. Promoting the thought of enjoying Heineken in moderation and drinking responsibly to engage with people, has made moderate drinking aspirational.

The Dutch-born beer was brought to India by United Breweries and since then the brand has undertaken differentiated marketing campaigns to garner maximum eyeballs. Heineken is also the sponsor of many sporting events such as UEFA Champions League Football and Rugby World Cup. The brand’s ‘Open Your World’ campaign portrays the Heineken drinker as an open-minded consumer and encourages aspirational behaviour. In order to pace up interactivity, the original brewery in Amsterdam has been converted into a beer museum known as ‘Heineken Experience’, which is one of the most visited sites.

Music has been the driving force behind the brand’s success story. Held across Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, the Heineken Green Room was a series of exclusive, invite-only events that showcased international dance music artists that complemented the beer moment. Heineken has been involved in landmark music events across the world from the Coachella and Ultra Music festivals in the US, Rock in Rio in Brazil, the Open’er Festival in Poland to Balaton Sound in Hungary and the Sandance Festival in Dubai. Heineken activated the Heineken Live Access – a retail promotion that gave consumers a chance to win ‘Live Access’ to Heineken Music events around the world.  In continuation of the brand’s association with music and its ‘Open Your World’ positioning, this promotion gave Heineken consumers a chance to win VIP Access to ZoukOut Singapore! As part of the 140-year celebrations, the beer brand had an interactive art installation in Amsterdam, where it compiled the images received from people through social media into a series that was displayed on the giant bottle screen in the Dutch Capital.

Heineken also extended its 15-year partnership with the James Bond franchise and introduced a global marketing campaign to support the launch of the new film Skyfall with participation of James Bond actor Daniel Craig in the brand’s worldwide campaign.

Igniting romance on Valentine’s Day last year, the brand launched a new Facebook application called ‘The Serenade’. Based on the brand’s second global film ‘The Date’, the new app enabled Heineken consumers to send humorous personalised songs to potential partners, inviting them on a date. ‘The Serenade’ was a part of the brand’s ‘Open Your World’ global campaign. It followed the launch of ‘The Date’, which celebrated a man taking a woman on a legendary date, set to the catchy 1960’s Bollywood track ‘Jaan Pehechaan Ho’ by Mohammed Rafi. Using an old Hindi song track for western audience was probably the best cultural exchange ever seen for a brand like Heineken. It was one of the most popular ads that created buzz around the brand and the song. The brand strongly believes in the idea of surprising consumers with such associations.

When the beer brand needed an intern for its event and sponsorship marketing team, they decided to throw away the interview rulebook and do things differently. The recent marketing campaign is titled as ‘The Candidate’ that shows a behind-the-scenes video demonstrating the resourcefulness of young job-seekers as they were forced to respond to extraordinary circumstances like holding the boss’ hand, reviving him as he ‘blacks-out’ during the interview, and finally helping rescue a stranded Heineken employee from the roof after a ‘fire-alert’. They drew up a shortlist of interviewees and invited the young hopefuls to Amsterdam to see what they were really made of – while secretly filming the process.

The result obtained after how they responded spontaneously to each situation helped determine who was best suited for the job. The film created from the interview process, has been made into content for social media. In India, Heineken will leverage ‘The Candidate’ as a curtain raiser to its UEFA Champions League activation, as it sets out to recruit a ‘Heineken Social Reporter’, to live the Heineken Experience, and report on the Finals Live from Wembley, London.

Design has also been an important part of the overall strategy of the brand. It won a Cannes in Design category for its UV Black Light STR bottle in 2011. The brand introduced a bar accessory known as the Heineken Arctic Glass, a double walled glass that chills beer within a few minutes establishing the fact that packaging helps in enhancing visibility.

Consumers are usually loyal to a particular beer brand. However, packaging and promotions play a very crucial role in determining preferences. Enhancing creativity around the brand can transform the image of the category. Hence, it’s time for a marked shift from a mere commodity to a lifestyle.

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