Heineken uses “fewer, bigger, better” strategy to drive global growth.
With a portfolio that spans soccer, rugby and the James Bond movie franchise, Heineken has long used sponsorship to engage consumers, support its brand positioning and drive growth around the world.
Below, Hans Erik Tuijt, Heineken director of global sponsorships, discusses the shared traits of Heineken’s global partnerships, the company’s evolving activation strategy, the beer giant’s foray into Formula 1, and other topics.
On Heineken’s global sponsorship strategy
What all of these global partnerships have in common is that they enable Heineken to augment fan experiences in memorable and unique ways. As a brand, we are looking for ways to create engaging experiences for our “Men of the World” that go beyond the 90 minutes of the match, or the two hours on the track.
For each property and each campaign our execution strategy may differ – but that is a core element of our approach.
We have strategically decided to concentrate on a few large, high quality properties to get the maximum benefit from our investments. These properties all have elevated international reach and professional standards – which make them a perfect match for Heineken, the world’s most international premium beer brand.
These sponsorships play an important role in fuelling the continued growth of the Heineken brand around the globe. It ensures we are playing an active part in consumer conversations, reinforces brand strengths in emerging markets where Heineken is established and builds brand equity in key markets for the company, particularly in the developing world.
On the evolution of Heineken’s activation strategy
Our strategy has remained consistent. What has changed is how we execute it and bring it to life for our consumers – as their habits, attention and priorities change. For example, a few years ago we evolved our UEFA Champions League campaign execution strategy as fans were migrating to second screen viewing experiences, to offer them an in-match Q&A with football legends through Champion the Match.
Now, we’re looking at new ways to engage with our fans before, during and after these moments in a way that’s accessible, authentic and gives us the highest chance of engaging with them in a meaningful way.
On the thinking behind Heineken’s foray into Formula 1
As any fan can tell you, F1 is bigger than a race. It is a global event. And this property gives Heineken a unique opportunity to engage with existing and potential consumers in important growth markets in three specific areas; strong commercial opportunities; expansion of our responsible drinking platform in new and innovative ways; and enabling skill transfers between F1 and our employees.
Last autumn, we introduced our “When You Drive, Never Drink” campaign, in a film starring road safety pioneer and F1 legend, Sir Jackie Stewart. The latest chapter in Heineken’s long-term commitment to encourage responsible drinking, the commercial creatively communicated a powerful anti-drunk driving message where consumers are left in no doubt – when you drive, you never drink. Through this, we hoped to clearly articulate and reinforce through the F1 partnership the company’s view that when you’re behind the wheel, abstinence is the only option.
As our partnership continues in the upcoming seasons, fans will see further illustrations and executions of this campaign and more from Heineken alongside the thrilling action on the track at F1 events around the world.
On new and recent sponsorship activation platforms
We work with our agency partners on an ongoing basis to create engaging and interactive ways to leverage our various sponsorships. We do have a proud heritage with our sponsorships, including Heineken’s outstanding work with the UEFA Champions League through digital-led campaigns such as the ‘Champion the Match’ and ‘UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour’.
At the start of this UEFA Champions League season, in September we launched “Prep Talk”, a campaign that sees two-time UEFA Champions League winning manager Jose Mourinho deliver a passionate and motivational address to fans across the globe. He challenges them to prepare for match night, no matter where they are in the world and no matter what time zone they are in. To date, that film has received 59 million views by fans worldwide.
We’ve just announced that beginning in April, we will be continuing our work with Jose Mourinho for “No More Excuses” – to remind and incentivise fans to tune into UEFA Champions League match nights. The Facebook messenger chatbot will combat fans’ reasons for not getting together for match night and offer the fans that do rewards in the form of transportation, food delivery and home cleaning discount codes.
The UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour presented by Heineken is a chance for football fans around the world to get up-close and personal with the UEFA Champions League Trophy. Over the last few years, Heineken has taken the Trophy to Latin America, Asia, Africa and North America.
This year Heineken is taking the Trophy Tour to cities across Jamaica, Panama, Colombia, Egypt, India and Vietnam. Our campaign – Champion the Trophy – will use social media to challenge football fans in these markets to help us take the trophy on a journey around the globe. Every hand-over from fan to fan presents us with an exciting opportunity to host a great experience – big or small – unique to their distinct football fan culture.