Cannes Lions 2022: How Heineken coped with cultural and technological shifts alongside the pandemic

For a brand to remain relevant over time, especially during a pandemic, it must ensure that the interests of its stakeholders align, while keeping innovation at the forefront. The case is no different for beer brand Heineken, which claims to have used what it calls “The Green Triangle,” which highlights topics the brand keeps a close eye on, namely category, generation and zeitgeist. “The pandemic had a huge impact on our category, as consumers were no longer able to go outside to socialize. In addition, many bars had to close their doors. During the pandemic, we acted on all three points of this triangle to support the community,” said Bram Westenbrink, global head, Heineken at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, 2022.

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

In addition, Heineken also leveraged metaverse to launch its first virtual beer Heineken Silver, targeting the Generation Z generation. According to the company, more than 1,350 hours were spent on virtual beer with more than 1.7 billion impressions. According to the company, this was the most successful Heineken launch in history. For Westenbrink, each brand wants to stay in touch with the younger generation and these consumers are looking for authenticity and recognisability. Metaverse was one such platform that has gained popularity among these audiences and hence became the preferred choice for the brand.

Westenbrink also emphasized the importance of culture. “If you want to be part of the culture, you have to focus on what’s happening in the consumer’s life. We want to be the most current beer brand in the world. That means if we see something that we believe we are credible enough to have a point of view and that is relevant to our consumers, we want to be there and we want to do it quickly,” he explained, citing an example. that he said that when the brand realized that the pandemic is over in most parts of the world, the next question now was that coronavirus is not the great enemy of socializing, what is the new enemy of socializing?

As part of this, highlighting how work-life balance became an issue after the pandemic, Heineken came out with a tech-assisted bottle opener in its new campaign called The closer† The opener puts nearby laptops and applications to sleep when used on a bottle. This campaign was launched worldwide by the brand. “What people hate these days, especially the younger generation, is advertising and trying to sell something. We have to find something new and this topicality makes the difference: make a point, be relevant but still stay within your own territory,” explains Bertelli.

With all these efforts, the company claims to be the fastest growing beer brand within the alcohol industry and also within the beer brands for two years in a row.

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