The public image: Heineken

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Humour and socialising feature heavily in Heineken ad campaigns, as they do in much beer marketing. The latest campaign from the Dutch beer company continues on the humour theme but adds in a satisfying cantankerous edge. By claiming that Heineken has been “social networking since 1873”, it dismisses, or implausibly claims for itself, one of the big business fads of the past few years. 8e638874-2d61-11e0-8f53-00144feab49aThe subtext is that there is nothing new or exciting about Facebook, Twitter or MySpace – something the grumpy old man sitting in the corner of your local pub would heartily agree with.
It is not likely that the grumpy old technophobe would have seen the ad in the first place, however. Perhaps ironically, the campaign came to prominence on Facebook, after starting life as a print campaign in the Netherlands. The brewer has nearly 1m people “liking” its page on the site.
One criticism is that both visually and thematically, the ad clashes with the all-singing TV productions for which Heineken has become famous. Though funny, it would work just as well for other beer companies with smaller marketing budgets.
The social networks probably won’t mind getting ribbed by their old-school competitor, either. Facebook has been around for less than a decade and is worth a cool €50bn ($69bn) – nearly three times Heineken’s €18bn market capitalisation.