Advertising during COVID times — Heineken, the brand that got it right

We are living in very uncertain times. Not long ago, I found a hilarious post on Instagram that basically stated the following: Imagine if a time traveler would have come to you, and said: “Hey! I don´t have much time, but be ready because in 2020 there is going to be a pandemic where life as you know it will change. You will have to stay at home for months, people will fight over toilet paper. Face masks will become your best friend and the most essential item (even more than your phone). Oh, and by the way, you won´t be able to socialize, meet, or touch other people for a while”. I think we would all have been like, wow, this guy is crazy. Yet here we are, 6 months into the pandemic.

The “new normal”

Have you noticed everything has changed now? From restaurants and retailers to companies. Every single industry has had to adapt to the new circumstances we are living in, including top brands. Have you noticed lately how most of them have changed their communications, ads, and campaigns? Most ads I´ve seen lately on TV suggest to “stay at home” and offer solutions like contactless delivery, zero interest payments, discounted subscriptions, and so on.

Heineken: how is it engaging?

I found this Heineken commercial online and thought that the brand made a very good job with it, as it tackles real-life situations that we all can relate to in a fun and creative way. I can say for myself that I’ve been there and I will take a guess and say you have too.

This ad is very engaging and original. From the beginning, Heineken describes many annoying, awkward, and funny situations such as poor wifi connection, dropping your phone, or attending boring zoom meetings. What I like about this ad is that the product is there, but the brand is not pushing the product. It does not suggest you to go and buy a Heineken right away. Instead, they are doing a brilliant product placement strategy. You can see the beer is there, but it flows with the story without being — intentionally — the center of attention.

I guess we can all relate to at least one of the things that happen in the video. We all have had to adapt and put up with technology to connect with others whether in a job meeting or a social gathering. As they cleverly state, and I agree: “It’s not the best get together, but it’s the best way to get together”.

Heineken’s historical creativity

Over the years, Heineken has made an excellent job with its ads. All of them are very different from one another, but they still maintain Heineken’s main essence. The brand has managed to create several original and humorous ads that have had an incredible impact on social media, resulting in millions of views and thousands of shares and comments.

Let’s take a look at the famous “Walk-in Fridge” ad.

When comparing the ads, it’s easy to see that they are extremely different from each other. Yet, both of them are engaging, funny and the audience can relate to the story right away.

Some Final Thoughts

Heineken saw and opportunity with everything that was going on during COVID and they managed to do a great campaign out of it. Still, they were consistent with their story and strategy. Instead of pushing to sell beer, Heineken decided in this uncertain times, to communicate an important message which everyone could easily relate to: Socializing responsibly.

Hope you enjoyed this post, stay tuned for next week!

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Ariela Gorshtein

Ariela Gorshtein

Mexico • NYC I Marketer I NYU MS in Integrated Marketing