April 27

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New Heineken Film Cleverly Opens Minds With Social Experiment…

I write about the importance of creativity in modern branding.

I recently wrote about the dangers of what I call the “Bandwagon Mirage,” where brands take a clear position on a polarizing issue to the detriment of sales (“Starbucks, Target And Now Pepsi Show Us The Value Of The Bandwagon Mirage“). But Heineken has just come out with a social experiment in the form of a film that takes a strong position we can all not only relate to, but be inspired by.

I’ll get to the many reasons I like this work from Heineken. First, the film:

A political position on political positions.

With this film, Heineken skirts the political danger zone by not taking a political position but taking a position on how intolerant people with political positions can be. By forcing people with opposing views – and don’t know it – to work together to build a bar (a bar!), Heineken deftly does an end-around on the political topic each person is known for and gives them other doors through which to connect.

Social media, as we all know too well, has a way of forcing the opposite effect. Certain friends become labeled “liberal” or “conservative” and that’s that. It’s very difficult to break free from these labels, once established, and have a human conversation.

But in this film Heineken reminds us that we are not defined by one political view, we are people.

Perfect message coming from a beer.

I suppose any brand could have done this film and it would work, but I think it’s especially powerful coming from a beer brand. Too often we see the cliched images of “friends out socially for a beer.” It’s a truism, for sure, but not a fresh take on beer drinking.

This film acknowledges the connecting power of beer in the film’s climax, where the two people are exposed to the other’s hard-line and opposing political view and offered, “You can go or you can stay and discuss your differences over a beer.” Quick aside, it was smart to say “beer” here and not “Heineken,” as the latter would have been too heavy handed and exploitive.

Heineken grounds its beer in the other social. Not the “friends out socially for a beer,” but the “serious topics can be discussed over a beer” social. The fact the two people are given the choice to leave — and don’t — is even better. The two people, despite wildly different views on a very personal topic, choose to stay and talk about their differences over a beer.

Universally sharable content.

If you will allow a shade of cynicism, I think this film is laced with lighter fluid when it comes to wildfire “sharability.” Very few people who hold strong positions will ever admit they are wrong, but they will admit they don’t feel listened to.

That dynamic alone will increase the likelihood that this film will get shared. People want others to listen to them, so watch this!

More importantly, of course, the film’s experimental nature gets us to think again about our hard lines. And that, too, will increase sharability.

Regardless of why it gets shared, I hope it does. It’s a powerful message based on a human insight at timely time from the perfect product. Open your world, indeed.

Go beer. Go Heineken.

Will Burns is CEO of virtual-ideation firm, Ideasicle, and owner of Tini Grails, an online martini glass store. Follow him @WillOBurns.

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