Cannes Lions 2022: How Heineken dealt with cultural and technological shifts besides the pandemic

As per the company, over 5,000 bars around the world turned into a new sustainable media buying platform during the pandemic resulting in 40% more media value than the traditional OOH

Besides this, Heineken also leveraged metaverse to launch its first virtual beer Heineken Silver, targetted at the Gen Z generation.
Besides this, Heineken also leveraged metaverse to launch its first virtual beer Heineken Silver, targetted at the Gen Z generation.

For a brand to stay relevant over a period of time, especially during a pandemic, it needs to ensure that its stakeholders’ interests are aligned, while also keeping innovation at the forefront. The case has been no different for beer brand Heineken which claims to have leveraged what it calls ‘The Green Triangle’ that indicates topics that the brand keeps a close eye on, namely – category, generation and zeitgeist. “The pandemic had a huge impact on our category as consumers could not go out anymore and socialise. Besides that, a lot of bars had to shut down. During the pandemic, we acted on all the three points of this triangle to support the community,” Bram Westenbrink, global head, Heineken said at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, 2022. 

According to Bruno Bertelli, global chief creative officer, Publicis Worldwide, during the pandemic, the idea was to make a difference in people’s lives. Citing an example of the brand, he stated that Heineken spends about 10% of the entire global budget on outdoor (OOH). So the idea was to use that budget to support bars and use their shutters as outdoors. “We started in South America and Argentina and then rolled it out in other markets. It became a global campaign,” he said. As per the company, over 5,000 bars around the world turned into a new sustainable media buying platform resulting in 40% more media value than the traditional OOH. Furthermore, about € 7.5 million went directly to bars through this initiative.

Besides this, Heineken also leveraged metaverse to launch its first virtual beer Heineken Silver, targetted at the Gen Z generation. As per the company, over 1,350 hours were spent in front of virtual beer with more than 1.7 billion impressions. This, as per the company, was the most successful Heineken launch in history. For Westenbrink, every brand wants to stay in contact with the younger generation and these consumers seek authenticity and relatability. Metaverse was one such platform that has gained popularity among these audiences, and therefore became the preferred choice for the brand. 

Furthermore, Westenbrink also highlighted the importance of culture. “If you want to be part of the culture, you need to focus on what’s going on in consumers’ lives. We want to be the most topical beer brand in the world. That means if we see something where we believe that we are credible enough to have a point of view and is relevant for our consumers, we want to be out there and we want to do that fast,” he elaborated. Citing an example he said that when the brand realised that the pandemic has gone in most parts of the world, the next question was now that coronavirus is not the big enemy of socialising, what is the new enemy of socialising?

As part of this, highlighting how post pandemic, work life balance became an issue, Heineken came up with a tech-enabled bottle opener in its new campaign called The Closer. The opener put nearby laptops and applications into sleep mode when used on a bottle. This campaign was launched by the brand globally. “What people hate today, especially the younger generation, is advertising and trying to sell something. We need to find something new and this topicality is what makes the difference – making a point, being relevant but still staying within your territory,” Bertelli explained. 

The company claims that with all these efforts it has become the fastest growing beer brand for two years in a row within the alcoholic industry and also within the beer brands. 

Read Also: Cannes Lions 2022: Dentsu Creative bags second Grand Prix, India’s metal tally stands at 20 after day three

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