Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

Score that goal! What can you learn from this company’s tactics to win consumers’ loyalty and trust? [Monday: Marketing Marvels]

May 3, 2021

Are you looking for ways to scale your marketing efforts?

Why not try purpose-driven messaging?

According to the American business website, Forbes.com:

“Participating in cultural conversations with global implications shows consumers that your brand is invested in creating a better world, not just making profits.”

Furthermore, purpose-driven marketing helps form partnerships with other brands that are dedicated to the same mission.

Here’s one company that’s an expert at socially responsible communications…

Heineken N.V.!

Heineken is a Dutch brewing company that was founded by entrepreneur Gerard Adriaan Heineken in 1864.

As of 2020, the brand is the #1 brewer in Europe and the second-largest brewer in the world by volume.

How did Heineken expand its reach and increase its customer base through the years?

One is through purpose-driven messages and campaigns!

Heineken invests over 10% of its media budget on responsible consumption-focused messaging. This includes using the company’s identity and unique position to address alcohol-related accidents and illnesses.

Below are some of Heineken’s creative campaigns that resonated with consumers across the globe:

  1. The “Know The Signs” Campaign

    “Enjoy Heineken responsibly.”

    This was the message of the brand’s “Know The Signs” ad in 2008.

    The campaign aimed to provide comprehensive information about the pros and cons of excessive alcohol consumption.

    In the video, Heineken reminded consumers to be on the lookout for signs of people who are transforming into any of these types of drinkers:

    • Sleepers

    • Gropers/Perverts

    • Exhibitionists

    • Fighters

    • Criers

    • Seducers

    A website was also created to encourage customers to interact with the campaign.

    Each web page contained detailed descriptions about a specific type of drinker as well as alternative realities on how that drinker’s night would end.

    Website visitors could share the web pages with their family and friends, assign friends to each category, send a virtual glass of water, and modify a friend’s face to fit one of the characters.

    Through this campaign, Heineken promoted responsible alcohol consumption to a whole new level―not only did it entertain viewers but also raised awareness about the pitfalls of drinking too much!

  2. The “Open Your World” Campaign

    Heineken’s “Worlds Apart” video in 2017 is an example of controversial marketing done right.

    The short film began with a social experiment that featured pairs of people with opposing beliefs. The campaign team asked these strangers to stay in one room and finish an activity together like fixing broken chairs, tables, etc.

    Note: The conversations in the video were entirely unscripted!

    After 90 minutes, a speaker would reveal that the pairs have contradicting political views. Upon the revelation, it was all up to these people to decide whether they would like to discuss their views over a bottle of Heineken beer or leave.

    Every pair chose to sit down and discuss their opinions with each other, driving home the brand’s goal to “promote openness and unite people all over the world.”

    In just 2 days after it was posted on YouTube, the “Worlds Apart” video garnered 14.5 million views and 3 billion media impressions.

    The campaign even won a Bronze Lion in the Cyber category at the Cannes Lions Festival in 2017!

    Clearly, Heineken’s way of bringing different people closer helped the brand win the hearts of film viewers and consumers worldwide.

  3. The “Share The Sofa” Campaign

    According to Heineken’s consumer insights data in 2014, around 76% of people watch the UEFA Champions League on their home sofa alone.

    Since the league was “too great to be enjoyed on your own,” the company knew that kind of setup shouldn’t stay that way.

    So… what did the brand do to level up consumers’ watching experience?

    The “Share The Sofa” campaign!

    All football enthusiasts had to do was tweet “#ShareTheSofa” and tag Heineken on Twitter. Once tweets were posted, the company’s marketing team randomly picked online users and then…


    These lucky football fans had an opportunity to literally sit on a sofa together with popular soccer players such as Ruud Gullit, Nistelrooy, Owen Hargreaves, Hernan Crespo, and Fernando Morientes while watching a football match on TV.

    During the game, the lucky fans who were chosen chatted and hung out with star players as if they were ordinary friends. They asked soccer-related questions like, “Do you think Real Madrid can score another goal?” and personal questions such as “What’s your favorite sandwich and why?”

    “Share The Sofa” became a trending topic in 94 countries and generated over 1 billion media impressions after the duration of the campaign!

    Thanks to a fun take on an interesting consumer insight, the brand was able to dominate the 2014 UEFA Champions League and sell beer to both football fans and players!

See how Heineken appeals to its target market through these campaigns?

By addressing the risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption, taking advantage of controversial marketing, and creating strategic ads using consumer insights, the brand is able to demonstrate its commitment to responsible use of its beverages.

Another takeaway from the company’s marketing strategy is this:

Purpose-driven messaging triggers emotional responses from the target market and helps form meaningful partnerships, which are important in increasing customer loyalty and improving brand reputation.

Aside from these clever messaging tactics, what else is Heineken optimizing to attract new customers?

Digital marketing!

According to Heineken’s study in 2018, many football enthusiasts watch the UEFA Champions League through digital devices only.

Meanwhile, statistics from the market research agency Blauw Research shows that 8 out of 10 fans watch the league using at least one digital channel (live streams or social media).

Of these fans, Heineken discovered that many were “light beer users” (consumers who buy the brand’s products occasionally). They were the company’s ideal target market to increase penetration in the digital sector.

To reach this group of consumers, Heineken ran a global direct-to-consumer initiative called “Drinkies” from 2018 to 2019.

This was an e-commerce channel that enabled cold Heineken beer and snacks to be delivered door-to-door within an hour of ordering.

During the UEFA Champions League’s knock-out stage in spring 2019, Drinkies saw a 5.6% lift in sales. This was especially the case when the football team, AFC Ajax was playing!

By integrating digital tools in its marketing mix, Heineken showed that improving individualized data-driven marketing (getting the right message to the right person at the right moment) and data-driven sales (having the right SKUs in the right outlet at the right moment) can do wonders for a brand.

In the past five years, Heineken N.V. has recorded revenues of:

  • EUR 20.8 billion in 2016
  • EUR 21.6 billion in 2017
  • EUR 22.5 billion in 2018
  • EUR 24.0 billion in 2019
  • EUR 19.7 billion in 2020

According to Walter Drenth, Heineken’s Global CMO for Global International Brands, the company will continue to steer its marketing campaigns through purpose-driven messages while also maximizing the use of advanced technology.

Heineken N.V.’s Earning Power: Valens Research vs. As-reported numbers

Heineken N.V. (HEIA:NLD) makes for a great case study that we come back to regularly. One great reason?

The company has proven itself to be a better earning power generator than investors might think.

So, how well has Heineken been growing its business in the past years?

The research doesn’t lie—nor do the results. Earning power (the blue bars) continues to show results higher on average than what traditional databases show.

The blue bars in the chart above represent Heineken’s earning power (Uniform Return On Assets). Heineken has seen generally stable and improving profitability. Its Uniform ROA ranged from 7% to 14% in the past sixteen years, or an average of 11%. Uniform ROA is at 13% in 2019.

The global ROA is just 6%.

The orange bars are the company’s as-reported financial information. If you relied on these numbers, you will see a company with understated profitability. As-reported ROA (return on assets, a measure of earning power) only ranged from 4% to 8% in the past sixteen years. Its ROA in 2019 was only at 5%, which is almost 3 times lower than its Uniform ROA in 2019.

That’s what you’ll see in Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, and most other databases.

The company’s stock price also performed better than the rest of the stock market over the decade, which we can see in the blue line in the chart below. Its returns have been well above the market.

The numbers show that Heineken has been doing well and making a profit.

As a business owner or marketer, what can you learn from the company’s marketing and communications strategies?

  • Controversial marketing, when done right, brings people together. Remember to execute your plans well―just like in Heineken’s “Worlds Apart” video!
  • Consumer insights are important if you want to create campaigns that will resonate in your target market’s minds.
  • Exercise corporate social responsibility in an entertaining way so that even if you deliver an old message or reminder (like the ups and downs of excessive alcohol drinking), consumers will still be compelled to interact with your brand.
  • Make the most out of the tools and resources you have, both online and offline.

Just like Heineken, doing so will help you and your brand “Brew A Better World”…

… create similarly engaging and touching campaigns…

… and win the hearts of new and loyal customers who will help spread positive words about your brand with their personal networks!

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Monday Marketing Marvels”

Too often, industry experts and the marketing press sing the praises of some company’s marketing strategy.

…Only for the audience to later find out that their product was a flop, or worse, that the company went bankrupt.

The true ROI in marketing can’t be separated from the business as a whole.

What good is a marketing case study if one can’t prove that the company’s efforts actually paid off?

At the end of the day, either the entire business is successful or it isn’t. And the role of marketing is always paramount to that success.

Every Monday, we publish a case study that highlights the world’s greatest marketing strategies.

However, the difference between our case studies and the numerous ones out there, is that we will always make certain that the firm really did generate and demonstrate earning power worthy of study in the first place (compliments of Valens Research’s finance group).

By looking at the true earnings of a company, we can now rely on those successful businesses to get tips and insights on what they did right.

We’ll also study the greatest marketing fails and analyze what they did wrong, or what they needed to improve on. We all make our mistakes, but better we learn from others’ mistakes—and earlier, rather than later.

Hope you found this week’s marketing marvel interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Marketing Marvels!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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