Dutch premium lager Heineken is urging responsible consumption of alcohol with a new film, called The Experiment.
The YouTube video maps two separate nights out at a club in Miami, one with down-tempo, “boring” music, and the other featuring the uplifting trance of DJ Armin van Buuren. At each event, the bartender records how many bottles of beer are purchased at the bar. On the first (“boring”) night, 1,078 bottles were purchased, and on the second night, 632 were bought. The film goes on to explain that “If the music is good, people hit the dancefloor, and the more they dance, the slower they drink”.
As well as appearing in The Experiment, Armin van Buuren has developed a track called Save My Night exclusively for Heineken. “We have a fantastic opportunity, and responsibility, to connect with our audience and affect behaviour change”, said the DJ.
The film is part of a wider Heineken initiative, Dance More, Drink Slow, which aims to make moderate drinking aspirational around the world. Speaking at Cannes last year, Heineken chairman and CEO, Jean-François van Boxmeer, said: “Whilst beer is part of our culture, and it’s healthy to drink in moderation, it’s important to make the point that misuse of alcohol is not cool.”
The Experiment, created by agency Publicis Worldwide, has notched up just over 425,000 views in four days. There’s also a Q&A with Armin van Buuren on the brand’s website.
Heineken’s initiative feels like a genuine attempt to change public perception towards alcohol consumption, not just a tokenistic effort to appease industry regulators.
Communications around the wider “responsible drinking” movement is a serious investment for the brand (a Heineken spokesperson told Contagious that 10% of its 2014 marketing budget has been set aside to promote alcohol awareness), and can be challenging to keep fresh and interesting. With The Experiment, Heineken has not just focussed on negative connotations (i.e. “drink less”), it has offered an optimistic alternative (“drink less and have more fun”). “By providing consumers with aspirational examples and showing positive behaviour instead of criticising bad behaviour, the brand believes it can change consumer attitudes”, Heineken’s spokesperson said.
The way Heineken has disseminated its message is also important. Firstly, a January launch separates it from the raft of predictable seasonal campaigns that appear before Christmas. In fact, the brand told Contagious that January was chosen so that it would feel less like a seasonal reminder and more like a real, ongoing statement of intent. It’s also been shared first and foremost on Heineken’s social channels, “to reach our consumers in the places where they share conversations and plan their nights”, according to the press release.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out a wider trend that’s been making the headlines in the past few weeks. BBC News recently reported on the rise of the young non-drinkers. According to NHS statistics, young people in the UK are drinking far less than the previous generation, and this is also being seen across the pond, in the US. While there is still some way to go, optimistic campaigns such as The Experiment, which built on Heineken’s Sunrise campaign of 2012, should surely help to keep this trend moving in the right direction.
This is the latest in a series of midemblog posts from Contagious I/O, a bespoke database of trends, inspiration, insight and analysis, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. Contagious is a midem content partner – More information here; and be sure to sign up for the Contagious newsletter here!
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