Aishwarya Ramesh

Heineken's new campaign urges users to 'drink and drive'

Heineken's new ad for its 'non-alcoholic' beer offering involves a car fridge and Publicis Singapore.

For years, brands and marketers alike have been urging users to drink responsibly - especially if they need to drive home later. In many countries, driving while drunk is a punishable offence, especially since it puts pedestrians and other drivers on the road in danger. Most PSAs that discuss this topic, take a sombre tone, often tugging at users' heartstrings by reminding them of family, friends, and even pets who are at home, waiting for them to get home safe.

Heineken found a way to change the context of this conversation, by replacing the beverages with non-alcoholic beer. In association with Publicis Singapore, the brand set up refrigerators stocked with non-alcoholic beer in a spot that was meant to catch people off guard.

The team designed the beer fridge with the same features and technology of a modern car door and placed them at parking lots in popular locations across Singapore - like Orchard Road and Clarke Quay. The fridge was designed to be opened with car keys, by detecting the frequency that car keys emit.

“Heineken 0.0 opens up new drinking occasions. And to launch it in Singapore, we needed a high impact idea to show beer lovers they can enjoy a beer when they never thought of having one,” explained Faye Wee, APBS Marketing Director, as reported by Adobo Magazine. “We were very optimistic, but could never imagine that a fridge filled with zero-alcohol beer could get this much attention,” Wee added.

“The idea was to surprise drivers when they least expected to be offered a beer: right before getting in their cars. To call people’s attention, we also incorporated a few other features, like a rear-view mirror and the famous alarm sound when the door is unlocked”, says Axel Grimald, Executive Creative Director, Publicis Singapore in the same Adobo Magazine report. Understandably so, Heineken beer does not come to mind as a beverage that can be consumed from a vending machine style fridge in a parking lot, especially not immediately before driving back home.

Alcohol drinkers across continents seem to be leaning into the habit of drinking more responsibly. Earlier in January 2020, Heineken came out with an ad for their 0.0 beers, created in association with Publicis Italy and 'James Bond' actor Daniel Craig. It's interesting to note that Heineken has been associated with the James Bond film franchise since 1997, but this is the first ad featuring the international spy, sipping on a non-alcoholic beverage.

Closer home in India, United Breweries launched a non-alcoholic variant of Kingfisher Ultra beer in January. During an interview, United Breweries' CMO Gurpreet Singh revealed that alcohol consumption in Europe and in other countries is stagnating and that citizens are beginning to drink more responsibly or even abstain from drinking altogether.

The margins are higher, the volume aspirations are bigger. The non-alcoholic beverage space is significantly bigger than the alcoholic beverage category.
Gurpreet Singh, CMO - United Breweries

"We looked at Heineken’s numbers for non-alcoholic beer, and that became a big part of the reason we got into it two years ago – it's more profitable. The margins are higher, the volume aspirations are bigger. The non-alcoholic beverage space is significantly bigger than the alcoholic beverage category," explains Singh.

Also Read: "In India, beer is not a common man’s drink" - United Breweries' Gurpreet Singh

Gurpreet Singh
Gurpreet Singh

He adds that any businessman in this trade needs to look beyond their core trade and look at other ancillary businesses too. "We’re still making beer, it’s just that it's non-alcoholic. It’s still made in a brewery and the processes and checks are exactly the same. The only difference is, at the end of it, your customer gets the option of a non-alcoholic beverage. It's only fair that you’re offering that same brand experience to other consumers who may choose not to consume alcohol," he says.

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