Heineken: There’s More Behind the Star

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Ralph Rijks, the senior vice president of marketing at Heineken discussed their latest campaign they have aimed at Americans, Wednesday.

The brand, which is the number one premium beer globally, is sold in 192 countries. Of those countries, America is one of the more difficult geographical areas the brand markets to. Rijks pointed out, the problem is not that Heineken is a new to the U.S. In fact, it has been here since 1933, when it became the first imported beer to touch American soil after the prohibition ended.

Instead, the problem Heineken faces, is revitalizing the brand within the U.S. marketplace. Rijks explains the challenge in getting their message out, as a huge opportunity in a very crowded space. To stand out, this European brand is doing what every other American brand has needed to do – market to millennials.

According to Rijks, the beer itself is unique, and this market needs a beer advertisement that reflects that, rather than the traditional lifestyle advertisements usually associated with beer. Instead, Heineken focused on something a little less traditional…the beer behind the brand.

Recently, Heineken released their new, “there’s more behind the star” campaign to revitalize the brand to the American millennial market, using facts that best resonate with an American public concerned with their own health, and the craft behind their beer.

As Rijks explained, Heineken has to taste the same no matter where you are in the world. But this is difficult, as Heineken is made from only three natural ingredients that can vary in taste and quality across seasons and locations. Although it may be easier to control the ingredients, Heineken isn’t looking to modify the nature that makes their beer taste the way it does. That’s where the brew masters come in. These are the people trusted to ensure Heineken’s consistency around the globe.

Their new campaign sought to bring these attractive facts to the public eye by drawing a parallel to something American’s may love just as much as their beer – their celebrities.

They sent the message that while people may feel they know their favorite celebrities and characters, they don’t truly know them personally. So they started using Benicio Del Toro to demonstrate their point. as their recognizable, but unknown celebrity. Rijks explained they chose Del Toro because he’s a recognizable, but relatively unknown celebrity with authenticity. Heineken used the surface-level fame of both its brand and Del Toro reinforce each other. The campaign took advantage of TV and digital ads. One TV ad showed Del Toro being mistaken for Antonio Banderas, and their digital content showed its global brew master in conversation with Del Toro about the simplicity and authenticity of the beer.

Rijks defended the campaign as being different from Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man” campaign, as he says that campaign is closer to lifestyle advertisements that they purposefully avoided.

The campaign was launched in March and has since received 517 million impressions, and resulted in a two percent sales increase. Rijks says the brand understands that reeducation of the consumer takes time, and these initial results have been encouraging.

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