Heineken’s “Champion’s League Concert”

Thanks to Gaston from design agency Claasens for sharing this interesting bit of integrated marketing from Heineken Italy that I missed last year. Its the closest any brand has come to matching the T-Mobile Dance initiative I blogged on here.

The Heineken initiative revolves round creating a spoof event on the night of the Champion's League football match when Real Madrid played AC Milan. Heineken convinced university
professors, girlfriends, and several bosses to convince their students,
boyfriends and employees to go to a classical concert on that night, thus missing the big match. A total of 1136 "victims" were duped into attending. After 15 minutes of hell in the concert, Heineken reveals the truth, and shows the match live on a huge screen.

The 5 minute case is here, or you can click below on the blog.

The results seem pretty impressive in terms of brand exposure and buzz:

– 1.5 million people watched the spoof event live on Sky Sport

– 10 million saw them on news the next day

– 5 million unique visitors to the internet the week after

Here is some learning:


1. AMPLIFY the activity:

Phil Chapman, CMO of Kerry Foods and creator of Dance when at T-Mobile, makes this important point. To really work these sorts of marketing ideas need pre-planning to amplify the activity. For example, inviting journalists to be part of the activity, so they have planned in coverage in advance. Not just doing the thing, then doing a PR release. You build in the buzz from the start

2. Dramatise the brand

The tricky thing is bringing to life the brand, not just creating an interesting activity. Heineken do this by creating an event around football, which is a key male beer bonding moment. Also, they sponsor the Champion's League, so there is a strong link. And the activity builds on comms around the sacred moment of watching football, and how ladies can, sorry to female footie fans, get in the way 😉


1. Lack of consumer content
Unlike T-Mobile and Dance, there is no real consumer content, or at least I couldn't find any. T-Mobile created a whole YouTube channel to share the Dance ad, making of video, consumer videos, Dance contests etc. In contrast, there is no trace I can find of the Heineken Italy Concert apart from a 5 minute case study.

Screen shot 2010-06-15 at 10.20.57
This case study has 600,000 views, but my guess is that most of these are marketing folk like me and you. And this pales into insignificance compared to the 21 million people who have seen Dance.

This is a missed opportunity to really amplify the activity.

2. Lack of drama in the event itself
Another weakness with the Heineken activity vs. T-Mobile is the relative lack of drama when the Champion's League game is played by Heineken. I would have expected 1000+ Italian football mad fans to go totally bonkers. Yet their reaction is quite subdued. The most interesting bits are the build-up and planning.

Again, it feels like the agency and brand team are showing off how clever they were, rather than truly engaging consumers.

In conclusion, this sort of activity can create impact and awareness for your brand. But it needs careful planning to amplify the effectiveness. And always remember to make it as interesting and buzzable for consumers, not just marketing folk.