Over the past five years, Heineken sales in the U.S. are down nearly 20%, and they're continuing in that direction. Although, to paraphrase the company's latest explanation to the financial community, "It's not as bad for us as it is for some others."
Being not quite the ugliest girl at the dance isn't much to brag about. And it sure doesn't make you "pretty."
This new marketing guy's almost unbelievably impressive track record may suggest he already has all the answers for what ails Heineken. But just in case he's an answer or two short, here are three we hope he'll consider.
1. Take Heineken's "global brand identity" with a grain of salt.
While a certain consistency in the brand's overall look across international borders makes sense, mandating a single advertising idea everywhere is pure marketing hubris. The current "Legendary" notion is a perfect example. How many guys really aspire to be legendary? Unless he was joking, would any regular guy ever describe himself with that adjective? What does it even mean?
We say push back against those who demand this sort of cookie-cutter marketing. It's plainly not working in the U.S., so no matter what Big Heineken says, their one size really doesn't fit.
2. Find a brand strategy that has more substance and depth than "we're cool."
Hipness is the false god of beer marketers. One U.S. beer brand after another has squandered huge sums of money aiming to be the REALLY cool brand. Heineken's ads featuring super-cool guys at "legendary" parties are neither the most recent to go down that hole, nor have they dropped the most money there. (Bud Light holds that dubious honor.) Continuing in this direction can't possibly be the path to 500% sales gains.
If the brisk sales of craft beer in this country-- some measure of which is no doubt accounted for by former Heineken
drinkers-- offers a lesson, it is this: Beer drinkers really do care about their beer's resumé. They want to know what's in the beer, how it's made, where it comes from, and how it tastes. And the more they're paying for the beer, the more these facts seem to matter. So, tell them what makes Heineken beer special.
As a starting point, perhaps just explain what this means:
Hey, even if he can only manage a hundredth of his Brazilian miracle-- 5%, instead of 500% growth-- he will still be... legendary.