Magazine article Marketing

A World of Difference

Magazine article Marketing

A World of Difference

Article excerpt

Heineken's bold adoption of a global campaign would not suit many brands, writes Simon Kershaw.

We live in an age in which differences between people are highlighted more than their similarities. In light of the increasingly fragmented and fractious nature of our world, then, are global campaigns an exercise in futility?

Not for those who work at Heineken, it would seem. It has just launched its worldwide brand ad and strapline, which it premiered on Facebook (Marketing, 19 January). Having attracted 4m hits on YouTube, 'The Entrance' ad will soon appear on TV and cinema screens. In it, a suave man encounters an eclectic cast of characters at a party, and ends up playing flute with a pop band.

It is yet to be seen, however, whether the ad will have equal appeal in all of Heineken's 170 markets. It's certainly a simple and big enough idea: those who drink Heineken are the kind of people who effortlessly negotiate any situation. Imagine a combination of James Bond, Bill Bailey and Prince William.

As part of the strategy, Heineken has deleted its local Facebook pages, redesigned its packaging and ditched more than 12 straplines around the globe, replacing them with 'Open your world'.

Elliot Polak, founder and chief executive of cross-cultural marketing adaptation specialists Textappeal, says culture-proofing is essential However, he adds: 'This shouldn't be a recipe for bland, lowest-common-denominator campaigns. Some of the most successful are founded on a local insight. Coca-Cola's 'Open happiness' speaks of the US' culture of instant gratification, but still works in India, where people have a quite different view.'

Brand strategist Helene Venge, a former global marketer for Lego and Levi's, agrees that a broad enough idea can straddle a brand's positions in various territories. Danish toy brand Lego has 'the same qualities for the same kind of people everywhere, so it's possible to run the same campaign with the same strapline', she says. 'Levi's, however, means different things to consumers in the US, Europe and Asia.' Few brands, outside sportswear, have universal appeal, she argues.

Beer may be one product that does. Heineken claims its consumers are worldly, well-travelled people, so opting for global over local ensures a consistent, unifying campaign.

Brands lost in translation

Named after its founder, Gerard Adriaan Heineken, the Dutch beer brand has travelled well over the years. …

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