News & Views

Heineken / Dropped / Interview

by Contagious Team

Contagious speaks to Sandrine Huijgen, Heineken's manager of global communications, about the beer's latest branded content campaign

Premium lager brand Heineken recently launched its first large-scale branded content campaign. Created by Wieden+Kennedy, Amsterdam, the Dropped series follows select brand aficionados who have been placed in the middle of nowhere - from the Alaskan Arctic to the Cambodian jungle - and need to find their way back to civilisation. Following Heineken's belief that 'to progress you must cross your borders', the participants are forced outside their comfort zone to prove that Heineken drinkers are a worldly bunch. Have a look at the video above for a sneak peek at second part  of the campaign, which launches on Monday 24 June.

Contagious speaks to Sandrine Huijgen, Heineken's manager of global communications, about Dropped.

Can you tell us why you decided to run a global branded content campaign now?

With the Serenade Live event, part of the Legends campaign, which was broadcast via YouTube last year, we tried to go further than traditional TV advertising. For 'Voyage', the fifth instalment of the Legends series, we wanted the campaign to take this approach - going beyond the normal. The Voyage TV ad is an inspirational piece of content, but we wanted it to be real as well. So we decided to run an experiment: if we're really convinced our drinkers are worldly and experienced beer drinkers, then we should drop them out of their comfort zone and give them a chance to show the world they are more travellers than tourists, comfortable in different situations where anything can happen.

What are your parameters for success with regards to Dropped?

Be part of the conversation with exciting content to view and share! As we unfortunately do not have the budget to drop all of our drinkers, we focused on giving a few of them from different countries the chance to become the heroes of our experiment. Our hope is that their legendary travel stories will inspire many young men around the world. The best response I'm hoping for: a twinge in our drinker's heart, what if I had done this?

What are Heineken's brand values, and how are these communicated through the campaign?

Actually this experiment is central to Heineken's belief that 'to progress you must cross your borders'. If you can do this, you will be rewarded. Using the analogy of a traveller is a strong way to tell the brand's conviction: being dropped out your comfort zone is intense, unnerving and at times terrifying, but if you come back a different person, richer with the experience, and with a bigger appetite for what the world has to offer, you win!   
What challenges have you encountered?

The unknown! It has been an 'out of comfort zone experience' for us too. You can prepare thoroughly for the Dropped adventure - the location, transportation and a few visually quirky items for our traveller (such as a giant Duck boat) but then you must let go. Our traveller will decide what he does, how he handles a situation. There is no such thing as a quick discussion between takes with the director to get the shots right when the director has snow up to his waist or is on the Duck boat when it hits the rapids! 

How is the campaign translated into media other than online videos?

The campaign is also translated into a large promotion with many opportunities to cross your borders and prove your traveller's mind-set: partaking in space training (in 30 markets, yes we know we're not the first ones but still a very relevant traveller's experience!), getting to travel in 'off the beaten track' destinations (ever fancied using a roulette table at the airport to switch your safe weekend at Cape Cod for the unknown of Ulaanbaatar, Reykjavik or Guayaquil? Well some US citizens will find out soon!)

The campaign is just going into its second round -- how did the public receive the first part?

We had an immediate great response with more than 5 million tweet impressions in the first 48 hours, reaching 113 million unique users via earned media coverage alone. Furthermore, we have had a lot of enthusiastic response from our drinkers and the media, but also constructive feedback on making the episodes easier to follow and the reasons for doing this experiment clearer. We think that the upcoming Dropped episodes in Cambodia will incorporate this feedback and the experiment will strengthen as the series comes to life. After all, we're just getting started!

How are you planning to sustain engagement?

Paid media (TV and digital) is going to kick in across most markets in the next few weeks generating wider audience awareness, and because we have a steep learning curve: each episode will get better. We too have crossed our borders and guess what? We are improving.