Heineken Sees Payoff From Digital Strategy

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Since Heineken’s latest commercial, “The Date,” debuted in late May, it has racked up more than 2 million views on YouTube, with no plans for television broadcast until September.

It’s all, of course, part of the brand’s strategy to use digital to attract younger (or at least, young at heart) consumers.

Alexis Nasard, chief commercial officer at Heineken International in Amsterdam, told the New York Times that brands must “think digital at the inception, not as an afterthought…the digital element must be part of the brief and the creative presentation.”[more]

Starting last December, Heineken began running spots online for the brand’s new global campaign with the theme, “Open your world,” which subsequently aired on TV in 30 countries.

The key spot, “The Entrance,” has been watched more than 3.7 million times on Heineken’s YouTube channel, and is also available on its Facebook page. Altogether, eleven clips with characters from “The Entrance” ran online-only, and have been viewed on YouTube more than one million times. 

While “The Date” and “The Entrance” – both created by the Amsterdam office of Wieden & Kennedy, share a tongue-in-cheek tone and out-of-the-ordinary music scores, the plots and characters diverge.

Heineken’s sweet spot is men ages 18 to 34, “worldly, cosmopolitan…[who] over-index in Internet usage,” adds Nasard. But Heineken has seen sales slip in the U.S. as their target demo consumes less of higher-priced, imported beers.

At the interactive 2011 conference, Heineken Digital reported 1.2 M fans who have 156 million friends that can reach 25% of Facebook users, with the comment

“OK, and how many of those people are going to go out and purchase a Heineken? We constantly have to be reminded that the ultimate purpose of social media is to get consumers to become customers.  If you have 1.2 million fans but other brands of beer are overtaking you or growing and you’re not then I would say your social media program is a failure regardless of how many people are friends.”

Time will tell if digital date spots open the world for Heineken.

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