Tuesday, December 29, 2009
In the 1990s Heineken beer (imported from Dutch parent company Heineken NV and sold in America by Heineken USA Inc.) had an outdated image. An icon of 1980s luxury and excess, Heineken had not adapted to changing trends in the United States. Heineken USA understood that its future growth hinged on making the brand more approachable in the U.S. market and on connecting with the beer industry’s all-important audience of 21 to 35 year olds. The company also wanted to maintain its reputation for superior beer. Enlisting agency Lowe & Partners (later called Lowe Lintas & Partners), Heineken in 1999 launched an advertising campaign that balanced these prerogatives while reinventing the brand’s image.
‘‘It’s All About the Beer’’—the central component of Heineken USA’s estimated measured-media spend of $34 million for 1999—focused on so-called ‘‘beer moments,’’ situations in ordinary life that became dramatic or otherwise noteworthy because of the presence of Heineken. With irreverent humor and down-to-earth backdrops, the new television spots took Heineken off its pedestal and communicated an updated, youthconscious sensibility. At the same time, as the campaign’s tagline and theme suggested, the commercials’ focus was solidly on the quality of the beer itself.
The campaign helped fuel consistent increases in Heineken sales and was credited with positioning the beer for healthy long-term growth. These successes were likewise reflected in increased ad spending, as the brand’s measured-media budget grew to an estimated $50 million by 2001. Despite changing agencies twice in two years, Heineken stuck with the ‘‘It’s All about the Beer’’ concept and tagline and continued to target a youthful audience in the following years.