Behind Heineken's Champions League marketing

Scott Goodson, Founder, CEO and Chief Creative Officer of StrawberryFrog worked with Heineken in its .first ever foray into the world’s most prominent club sporting event, the UEFA Champions League. "The Frogs" helped develop the strategy underpinning this initiative as well as the creative communications that ultimately were developed. He recently wrote of the challenge Heineken faced to use bring home its global brand strategy in a tangible way. Extract from Heinken's Diamon - making champions of a billion soccer fans:

Through an official sponsorship of UCL Football, we wanted Heineken not only to associate itself with soccer; we envisioned Heineken associating itself with champions. To achieve that, we needed a “thematic platform” that was credible and authentic, yet fresh and different in the soccer world. It was most critical that we extended a spirit of achievement and leadership to the whole planet. Our aim was to win new fans for Heineken globally — making it the favorite brand in the established American and European markets, as well as the newly adopted favorite brand in emerging markets like Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

Looking across the competitive landscape, we quickly appreciated that the challenge was huge. In soccer, UCL is the premier club championship in the world, and fast gaining on the World Cup, as the most talented global players play for the best clubs. In terms of soccer sponsorships, brewers trail other categories in capturing the essence of the sport and the spirit of fandom. We faced-off against some of the world’s best marketers, and understood that in the soccer arena, Heineken wasn’t Nike, MasterCard or PlayStation. This was, after all, Heineken’s first entrance into this sporting event. It had no history and no credibility among the soccer-loving congregation. But we knew Heineken could at least do better than Carlsberg and Budweiser. We ended up doing much better than we thought possible.

We began by de-fogging the gamut of information in identifying a very clear global target audience — one that was ever growing and which was a great deal larger than anyone had originally imagined. The key demographics for all premium beers are people of the legal drinking age, up to age 45. But there is a strong emphasis on single, urban men in their 20s. However, we recognized that anyone interested in the culture of soccer was a potential target. That insight opened up millions upon millions of potential fans, outside of traditional soccer lovers. If your girlfriend knows of David Beckham, she is a potential fan. If you know about Posh Spice, you’re a fan. If you follow the odd off-the-playing field gossip, you’re a potential fan, too. All of these people are open-minded, confident, and engaging, and we felt had the means and motivation to buy Heineken.

The process that we apply is called Cultural Connection. It is designed to get to an idea that has the power to spark a cultural movement for a brand, which we define as the mixture of a grass-roots movement and the science of marketing. Continue reading ...

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