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Heineken Subverts Expectations

Warc, June 04, 2015

CHICAGO: Heineken beer has shown how subverting expectations can help brands make an impact, with a campaign using electronic dance music (EDM) to promote moderation rather than additional consumption.

Hans Erik Tuijt, global activation director/Heineken, discussed its "Dance More, Drink Less" campaign – which encouraged EDM fans to consume alcohol at a slower pace – during IEG's 2015 Sponsorship conference.

More specifically, he revealed how a tie-up with Armin Van Buuren, a popular DJ, let the brand speak to this group in an authentic way on a potentially alienating subject.

"Contrary to what everybody thinks, we realise that binge drinking is an issue and is not in our interests," said Tuijt. (For more, including campaign creative and results, read Warc's exclusive report: How Heineken made moderation cool.)

"If people abuse alcohol, it will be bad and damaging for the whole industry. And that's why we have this topic very near to our heart, and we try to work through it."

Heineken actually broke with a tradition of not leveraging celebrity ambassadors for this initiative, as it recognised a well-known figurehead would add considerable weight to its pro-moderation message.

"People just don't believe that a brand like Heineken will say to you, 'Drink less' … It's very hard to tell people what moderation is. And that's what triggered us to say, 'How can you make it really, really cool in this area?'" Tuijt reported.

Van Buuren recorded a song, entitled "Save My Night", especially for Heineken – as well as using imagery from its "Dance More, Drink Less" campaign during his live shows.

Heineken also spread the word through millennial-friendly channels ranging from online video to activations at live EDM events, where it asked for water, rather than alcohol, to be served when Van Buuren's song played.

Among the results of the campaign was a 9% increase in the number of target consumers agreeing with the statement "If I drink less on a night out, I enjoy it more".

"We were [now] convinced that we are doing the right things. People want to be told in a different way how responsible consumption of alcohol is," said Tuijt in describing the campaign's impact.