What: Ralph Rijks, SVP of marketing of Heineken, spoke to Portada about the brewer’s most recent campaign, “There’s More Behind the Star,” and the importance of sports to the brand’s marketing strategy.
Why it matters: As of 2015, Heineken owned over 165 breweries in more than 70 countries. Based on volume, the Dutch brand is ranked as the third largest brewer in the world, after Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller.
Portada: Why did you choose Benicio Del Toro as your spokesperson for your new campaign?
RR: “When we were looking for a spokesperson, and there were a number of factors at play. With “There’s More Behind the Star,” we are shedding a bit of light on the star of Benicio, and Heineken. We’re similar in that there’s much more to our stories than what people typically know us for. This campaign was a chance for us to bring those layers to life, highlighting our global reach, family owned heritage, and authentic recipe and taste that’s remained unchanged for more than 150 years.”
Portada: Are you looking to reach the Hispanic market through him?
RR: “It’s more nuanced than just hiring Mr. Del Toro. Benicio’s global reach and celebrity were appealing, but his execution of the commercials and dedication to seeing our three major claims come through with a Heineken twist what really make the campaign sing. This was Del Toro’s first partnership with a brand, and we’re very happy with the results this far.”
Portada: Heineken is also involved in many sports, how important is it for the brand to sponsor teams and sports?
RR: “This is a big part of our strategy. Sports are a massive way to connect with drinkers in the U.S., and as a true import, we’re doing our part to bring another popular import—soccer— stateside. With our “Soccer Is Here” campaign, we’re bringing people closer to the game than ever before by raising the profile of soccer with fans through partnerships via the MLS & the UEFA Champions League, as well as TV spots featuring star athletes like David Villa, Landon Donovan and Carli Lloyd.”
Portada: What does sport mean to Heineken?
Sports, particularly soccer, are as synonymous with Heineken as our green bottle.
RR: “As the world’s most popular sport and one of the fastest growing in America, soccer is here to stay, and it’s a game enjoyed by our target consumer. No matter where you go in the world, a soccer ball is not far away—and neither is a Heineken. We have also seen that the target audience for soccer in the U.S. correlates with Heineken’s biggest consumers—namely, Hispanic-Americans and millennials, who tend to use soccer viewing as a prime occasion for enjoying beer. By leveraging our heritage in soccer and linking it to these consumers, we’re able to make meaningful connections.”
Portada: Are you planning any new strategies in this area?
RR: “Our “Soccer Is Here” campaign is a part of our new strategy that promotes soccer’s rich history and the current energy surrounding the game in America. It’s not that Americans didn’t like soccer before, it’s just that they didn’t know how to love it. Heineken is tapping into that momentum to take the game to new heights through a 360 campaign featuring the aforementioned stars, as well as onsite activations at MLS matches and team pub partners all season long.”
Portada: What other marketing divisions are the most important to Heineken?
RR: “In addition to sports, Heineken is deeply rooted in the music space, with custom Heineken House activations at top festivals including ULTRA, Coachella, North Coast and Outside Lands.”
Portada: In general, what are Heineken’s marketing goals for 2016 and how are you going to achieve them?
RR: “Our goal throughout 2016 centers on bringing people back to the core of what makes Heineken different from other brewers. The “There’s More Behind the Star” program will be threaded through multiple activations and campaigns throughout the year, so whether you’re watching a soccer match, at a festival, or at a bar, we’ll be reinforcing our family, global reach and recipe credentials.”