Video case study: Heineken’s “Worlds Apart” film gets 13m views in a month

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A Heineken video ad caused a buzz on social media in 2017, touted as the ‘ad Pepsi wishes it made’, getting 13 million YouTube videos in a little over a month. This case study looks at how the drinks-brand struck the right tone for a difficult subject… where other brands have failed.

Case study summary

• Long-form four minute ad posted online rather than TV.

• Clip features six people with different political and social views, given the task of working together to build a stool.

• Beer-maker used its latest video ad to tackle some of today’s most controversial issues head on.

• Ad has so far collected more than 13m views on the company’s official YouTube channel.

The challenge

Heineken had been criticised for previous video ads in 2016, when one of its ads ad suggested that women prefer men who don’t drink. Some viewers hit back at what they claimed is a misguided attempt to promote responsible drinking.

See the clip below:

Some of those complainants have made it clear what they think of the ad on social media, pointing out that it fails to acknowledge that females can drink more than men in the first place.

Keen to undo the negative press, a new ad in 2017 looked to tackle some of the biggest issues head on with a bold new brand repositioning campaign.

The solution

The long-form four minute ad was made in partnership with The Human Library, a worldwide movement for social change. It was posted online rather than TV.

The commercial starts with the question: “Can two strangers with opposing views prove that there’s more than united than divides us?”

The clip features six people with different political and social views. They are broken into pairs and given the task of working together to build a stool.

A climate-denier is paired with an activist, a man who believes that feminism is ‘man-hating’ is grouped with a woman who believes the fight for feminism will never truly be over, and a transgender woman is coupled with a man who believes you are either a man or a woman.

Once the stools are built, they sit on them and use five adjectives to describe themselves, then to name three things they have in common with their new work colleague.

The video ends with each person grabbing a bottle of beer and placing it on the bar. They then stand and watch a clip of their partner speaking about their beliefs.

After watching these clips, the pairs are given the option to stay and discuss their views over a Heineken, or leave. They all choose to stay.

Heineken is also backing a new global TV ad with limited-edition packs. The brewer said the new packaging is available across all bottles and cans.

The results

The launch of the ad attracted a lot of media attention as it was released in the wake of the controversial Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad. PepsiCo was forced to pull the ad within hours of its launch amid accusations it made light of protest marches.

Unlike Pepsi’s neutral approach, the beer-maker used its latest video ad to tackle some of today’s most controversial issues head on.

According to Heineken, the new campaign aims to ‘promote openness as a value that helps break down the barriers between us.’

Head of marketing at Heinkein UK, Cindy Tervoot, commented: “We know we’re never going to agree on everything but there will also be common ground.”

“Whether it’s 1950, 2017 or 2027, being open lets us get more out of life. It makes the world a more interesting place. And it makes every story worth listening to”.

The response to Worlds Apart has, overall, been positive with Twitter users praising the company for a “thoughtful piece of marketing” with some claiming it made them “tear up.” This is in direct contrast to last year’s ad that was criticised for insulting Heineken drinkers’ intelligence.

The Worlds Apart video can be shared using the hashtag #OpenYourWorld.
Heineken’s Worlds Apart ad has so far collected more than 13m views on the company’s official YouTube channel.


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