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Heineken: a refreshing take on advertising

Oct 30, 2018

While brewers can spend years perfecting their recipe, the best names know it takes much more than taste to keep the taps flowing and bottles flying off the shelves. In a market that’s bubbling over with new flavours and craft offerings, the thing that really makes customers loyal is the character behind the brew. Join us as we explore how Heineken has used its distinct brand personality to become one of the world’s best-loved beers.

Heineken first began brewing back in the 1860s, and during this time, they broke their brand down into four key areas: passion, fun, quality and delight. These values have manifested themselves in Heineken’s communications and campaigns ever since – starting with the distinctive green bottle that’s now an iconic symbol of Heineken’s unique personality.

It was only a century or so later that this adventurous lager would become a pioneering brand, connected to one of the most famous and longest-running ad campaigns of the 20th century. The story of Heineken’s ‘Refreshes the Parts’ promotion was born from an equally famous one-word brief, left on the desk of Copywriter Terry Lovelock. The sticky-note simply read ‘refreshment’, and its elusive nature had Terry desperately brainstorming for months. This struggle soon became worthwhile, when he woke at 3am with a slogan that’s influenced the British vernacular ever since – ‘Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach’.

‘Policemen’s Feet’ was the product of Terry’s original idea. It was an ad set out like a scientific experiment, showcasing a row of policeman stood serious and bare-foot. When passed a pint of cold Heineken, their tired feet could be observed to ‘refresh’ and their arches started to rock like a stereotypical policeman’s ‘bob’. This ad became so successful for a number of reasons. It encompassed the fun, unapologetic side of the brand, and Heineken’s willingness to connect with their consumer on a humorous level – and it managed to do all that while cleverly creating a distance between their delicious brew and the stale alternative of their competitors. No other lager could hit the spot like a Heineken.

When Heineken came on-board at PHMG, it was our job to not only continue this tradition of timeless copy, but create a sound that reflected their well-established personality. Our composers looked back to the brand values Heineken began with in order to decide which musical elements would best bring it to life. The result was live and electronic instrumentation, cleverly combined with bright synths and rich strings to showcase Heineken’s history and undeniable quality. Subtle sounds of live drums were added to the background, slowly gaining momentum to reflect the company’s passion and motivation – which, when added altogether, created a track that bubbled and refreshed the very same way as the perfect Heineken pint.

Music is integral to forming a positive emotional connection with the consumer. The best-loved brands use audio alongside visuals to create a consistent, well-rounded personality – which, in turn, increases the customer recollection for who they are and what they have to say. In Heineken’s case, their track solidified them as a fun-filled brewing company with a thirst for innovation.