Thursday, June 23, 2011

Heineken Needs to Stop

In college I wanted to get into advertising because I hated the way it was being done: stuff that didn't make sense, preying on peoples' insecurities, stereotypes familiar and newly created, and ads that don't even tell you about the product!  They're only selling images in so many cases!  I know this isn't exactly breaking news to anyone in the last century.  Doesn't matter.  It still annoys me more than it should and I have found myself yelling at TV ads on more than one occasion.  Don't even get me started on Miller Lite's new campaign to "Man Up" and drink a "light beer with more taste."  If you didn't see the irony in that last sentence, please go self-immolate.  Here is one of the offenders.

Why does a beer determine how masculine we are?  Is this not ridiculousness that borders on insanity?  However, that little rant was not even the topic of this particular post.  This post is aimed at Heineken and their blatant ripping off of others' ads.

Exhibit #1:

I was first made aware of this when I saw Breckenridge Brewing's commercial that mocked all of the "bottle technologies" that are currently being introduced by macrobrewers.  Here are a couple of them.

I'm sure you got the point after the first one, but those ads speak to me.  Not only do they make a simple pitch for their product, they also mock crappy gimmicks that distract from products.

After much searching, I could not find the TV spot for Heineken that mocks "beer gimmicks," but I did find this print ad which is an extension of the TV spots.

It reads, "No gimmick," but I think their gimmick is stealing ad ideas.

Exhibit #2
Stella Artois has been focusing a lot of its efforts and marketing around a new 9 step process called "The Ritual."  I first heard of it when I learned there was a contest to see who could complete this 9 step process and deliver a "perfect" Stella Artois.  I'm talking judges and everything.  For those of you unfamiliar with the 9 step process, you can check the video below.

I find the whole thing to be more than a bit pompous, but the ad is well made and truly does make the beer look refreshing and amazing.  Stella has really built up much of their marketing around this theme of the Ritual.  Check out Stella's website and you'll see then even have a PR campaign regarding art revolving around it.  I could find YouTube videos dating back to 2008 regarding Stella's "Ritual."  Even if at that date it was only a 3-step process and rather sloppy, it still had the beginning's of their current campaign.  Here is a graphic sans words of the 6th step in the process known as "the beheading."

As I found it, there was text on the ad that reads, "The Ritual - Step No. 6: The Beheading"
"Like any European great, a proper beheading keeps the legend alive.  This is because
removing large, loose bubbles prevents the Stella Artois from going flat.  Such attention
is ideal.  After all, perfection is in the details."

I found this ad in the July 2011 issue of Chicago magazine which is essentially a "beer issue," describing breweries, beers, bars, and the best places to pick up craft brews in the Chicagoland area.  A scant 12 pages  after seeing the Stella Artois ad above, I found the following Heineken ad (taken from @adsonthesubway via Twitter).

The magazine ad includes further text that reads, "Nothing like this weapon of choice seals in the lager's flavor.  And with one swipe, it masterfully cuts the top foam.  Yes, all froth plays a role, and sometimes that role requires beheading."

Are you kidding?  They even call it beheading?  I know there are only so many things you could call it and beheading is probably the most marketable of those, but do you really want to borrow that closely from Stella!?  In my research (aka Google search) I was not able to find the origins of "beheading" a beer so chronologically I'm not entirely certain who started this first or even when it started in general, but all signs seem to point to the fact that Heineken is new to the game.  I'm not sure if they changed marketing firms or what.  Some ads used to be funny (walk-in beer fridge with men screaming), and most treated men as the stupid white oafs/frat boys image that has been so popular in the last two decades.  I appreciate wanting to step away from that stereotype (after all Bud Light has rather cornered that advertising market) and rebranding oneself as a more substantial beer, but you can't rebrand YOURSELF by stealing OTHERS ideas.  You can borrow, you can even like a vibe that another commercial gives you and try to replicate it, but don't blatantly take their ads and repackage them as your own.  I don't know what the legal precedence is, but in college we called it "plagiarism" and we got our asses handed to us if we got caught.

Stop it Heineken.  I'm only a blogger and you're a huge company, but if I could hand your ass to you I would.

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