News & Views

Interview / Heineken's Mark van Iterson

by Contagious Team

Heineken is being named as Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity's Marketer of the Year. To celebrate the win, the brand has started the Heineken Talent Lab which will look to the future, helping the brand develop its advertising and involve and inspire creatives from countries that have never won a Cannes Gold Lion before.

We spoke to Heineken's head of design, Mark van Iterson, about the launch of the Heineken Talent Lab and how the beer brand is challenging young creatives to come up with an idea that will make drinking in moderation attractive. 

Two creatives will be selected from Bulgaria, Greece, Nigeria, DRC and Vietnam – all countries that are yet to win a Cannes Gold Lion. 

Van Iterson believes that by taking an approach around encouraging drinking in moderation (not only to stay in line with Government regulations but also to be ahead of legislation) will not only show how Heineken takes its responsibilities seriously but also help to sustain the business in the long run. He says: 'We can use the power of the brand to influence behaviour from a positive point of view.' Encouraging drinkers to pace their drinking speed, offering them water or a place to put down their beer can all help.

Van Iterson envisages Heineken Talent Lab as a way for the brand to look to the future after winning the prestigious Cannes honour, rather than celebrating past successes. 'The message should be that we are always looking forward to creative challenges. It is in our DNA. Heineken Talent Lab is a literal illustration of that. We will find young creative talent from countries that have never won a Gold Lion and give them a platform. The dream is that after the implementation these countries will win a Gold Lion.'

Explaining the importance of looking for talent from a diverse pool, van Iterson explains: 'Creativity is so central to our business, how we build the brand and how we connect with consumers.' He adds that Heineken's fundamental product hasn't changed for many years, explaining 'to keep relevant we have to constantly invent things around it, such as ways of serving, events and experiences.'

Heineken is seeking out diverse talent from unexpected sources, such as magicians and street artists. The ten winners will work together for a week in Amsterdam, where they will be immersed into the brand, its history and have the chance to meet its agencies, tour the brewery and hear consumer insights. 

The ten participants will have the chance to work together to come up with numerous different ideas, which will be voted on internally and selected by a jury, before being produced. The plan is to launch the work in early 2016, and depending on the nature of the selected idea, Heineken has pledged to run the work in as many countries as possible. Perfect timing for next year's festival.