Heineken a true football brewery

Hi all,

In one of my previous articles, I pointed out the 20 best known european football brands. The SPORT+MARKT survey was comparing the football brands in 2004/05 to the ones in 2009/10. On the latest ranking, Heineken got the 20th spot while they were absent in the 04/05 ranking. The Dutch Brewery put a lots of efforts to establish itself as a global football brand.

How? First of all by signing a sponsorship deal with the UEFA Champions League in 1994 (until 2011-2012) worth around US$70 million per season. Through this sponsorship, Heineken had a perfect platform to settle in the brand football landscape.  Heineken’s involvement in the Champions League started in 1994 under its Amstel Brand. With the ongoing growth of the Champions League globally, the sponsorship switched in 2005 from Amstel to Heineken, the brand global icon. Smart move.

The result of consumer awareness is significant, as the SPORT+MARKT survey pointed out. Heineken is NOW part of the exclusive european football brands landscape. Not only do we see the commercials during every Champions League match day, but as football marketeers, we do notice how Heineken is leveraging online and offline its sponsorship with UEFA. A couple of examples:

– UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour
Since 2007, Heineken is touring the trophy accross the globe and pitch in a great way to associate its brand to the biggest football club event. The Champions League trophy was in Japan in February 2007 with more than  90 million viewers. In Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Santiago and Mexico in 2008. Then Heineken toured the trophy in Africa in 2009 visiting Algiers, Lagos, Johannesburg and Cape Town.
For the 2010 edition, the Champions League Trophy was presented in New York, Boston, Chicago and L.A before finishing its trip in Madrid on March 17.

Although the tour was spread on a 3 year timeframe, Heineken achieved its goals; leveraging its sponsorship with the Champions League, establishing itself with a true football brand, talking directly to its consumers.

Heineken TV ads

– Appealling TV ads
Some really cool TV ads which point out the emotion of football and engage the fans in a very inspirational way. They are fun, full of football clichés, and directed to the football fan not the beer fan.

A fake classical music concert
Heineken organised a fake music concert and involved 1000 AC Milan fans with the help of 200 accomplices. I found this concept absolutely amazing. It took place in Italy, a country crazy about football, around the game AC Milan vs Real Madrid. Check it out.

So what is the bottom line? In my opinion, after 5 years of hard work and creativity, Heineken is now considered as a football brand. They have  not essentially been talking to beer fans, but managed to approach football fans and non football fans which is an outstanding performance.

Karl Lusbec





3 thoughts on “Heineken a true football brewery

  1. Wow! I cannot believe i hadn’t heard about the fake concert. Probably because I am hidden away in India working too much. Personally, I think it is an amazing campaign. They are directly involving the audience and even went further by having their partners, bosses or others become accomplices; they are establishing a relationship with them through the one-to-many dialogue that is so well crafted that it basically becomes a one-to-one dialogue; they made their audience experience joy and relief for that matter, even though they were the ones to initially frustrate them (but they are not being associated with that); finally they also made it viral… I mean, who doesn’t want to share this add with their friends or parents?
    In two words: just brilliant! Thank you for sharing that with us Karl.


  2. Hello Jeremy,
    I hope all is well with you in Incredible India. Thanks for your very good and constructive feedback. You hit the nail on the head. It is a viral that goes beyond viral, as you rightly mentioned the dialogues, bosses, accomplices involved. Heineken, with these marketing activations are gradually establishing themselves as a true football partner.
    I am looking forward to reading the new SPORT+MARKT survey and see how Heineken progressed.
    Keep in touch Jeremy!


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