Let’s take a look at Heineken’s “Worlds Apart.” It has clocked up nearly 12 million views on YouTube, started conversations, and changed minds…in a good way. How did Heineken hit the mark where others have failed? And what does that tell us about how brands should communicate in 2017? To figure this out, we must first answer three questions: why, what, and how?
Why do you have permission to enter the conversation? It’s key that brands answer the “why” behind their actions in a genuine way to avoid being dismissed as opportunistic. While this isn’t the first time Heineken has spoken for something that’s larger than lager – it’s been an outspoken advocate against drink-driving in the past – Worlds Apart is the furthest it’s stepped as a brand. But the “open your world” tagline has been around for six years, and Heineken has long established their purpose as being about bringing people together. As such, Worlds Apart feels like a natural and truthful extension of that.
What is the problem you are trying to solve? Unlike other brands that have tried and failed, Heineken communicates what it’s trying to resolve with purpose and clarity. The opening of the video unapologetically sets up the tension: “I would describe my political views as the new right,” spoken by a suited white male, is juxtaposed by “I would say that I’m left,” spoken by a black female wearing a ‘smash the patriarchy’ t-shirt. The opening ends with Heineken challenging us to consider whether there is more that unites us than divides us.
How can you help solve the problem?Here Heineken stays true to its product and brand – using beer to bring people together and encourage conversation. Heineken presents its product not as the answer, but as a tool to facilitate progress towards it – all parties end not necessarily agreeing, but having heard the other. Crucially, it has taken this a step further and authentically brought this to life. By partnering with and supporting “The Human Library,” sponsoring events where you can share a beer with someone unexpected, Heineken has demonstrated a concrete commitment to challenging stereotypes in the real world.
Communicated through a well-executed video that emotionally engages the viewer by drawing out our own internal conflicts, Worlds Apart effectively speaks to all audiences, whichever world they may exist in. It demonstrates how important it is to not just know your audiences but to know how to communicate with each of them in turn. That task is as complicated as it’s ever been, and here at m+p, that’s exactly the type of challenge we love.