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Tapping Digital to Make Heineken a 'Most Interesting' Beer



Lesya Lysyj
Chief Marketing Officer
Heineken USA

Heineken CMO Lesya Lysyj talked to eMarketer about how campaigns featuring James Bond and “the Most Interesting Man in the World” are using digital to enhance the message and the brand.

eMarketer: Heineken is a challenger brand. You have a fraction of the resources, and so how do you use digital to even the playing field?

Lesya Lysyj: One statistic that kind of resonated for me was that 65% of our target audience—our target audience being men 21 to 35—are watching TV while on another device at the same time. So it’s not to say that TV is a bad medium, because it’s a great mass medium and we still spend the majority of our dollars there, but by only doing TV we really think we’re just limiting the opportunity for these guys. So our strategy is to use TV as the entry point, but do it in a different way.

The James Bond “Skyfall” spot is a great example. It’s a little mini-movie in 90 seconds. The first time our consumers see it, there’s a confusion score. We actually have a relatively high confusion score, which we think is a good thing, because what that means is you want to see it over and over again, and then you want to go online. The digital play is to really engage them. I mean, without digital you just have kind of a one-way conversation. So for us, digital is really a way to start a two-way conversation.

[“The Bond ‘Skyfall’ spot] is a little mini-movie in 90 seconds. The first time our consumers see it, there’s a confusion score.”

eMarketer: Heineken has the top brand page on Facebook engagement of alcohol brands globally. What are you doing to maintain that position besides the BeerFriender app on the social network?

Lysyj: We’re moving from the number of fans to how engaged our fans are. It’s the highest bar to try and actually get your consumers engaged. Facebook is holding Newcastle [Brown Ale, which Heineken acquired in 2008] as kind of a best-in-class example of engagement. Facebook tells us that an engagement score of 5% is a very good number. That’s kind of the high bar that they encourage brands to try and get to. With Newcastle, our engagement score is 25%.

The brand strategy for Newcastle has got this great positioning, which we developed almost a year ago, and seems to be really resonating with our consumers. It’s all about no bollocks. We’re the brand that is honest in a restrained world. It’s all about brutal honesty.

So the positioning itself is simple. You can just grab a piece of content there and share it extremely easily. We’re finding some of our posts are getting 11,000 likes just for one post. And then we’ll put something else on and we’ll get 500 likes. So it's helping us to define our whole strategy. To me there’s kind of a dual benefit: No. 1, we’re really engaging our consumers; but No. 2, we’re tightening our strategy. It’s almost like a little research tool.

“We’re moving from the number of fans to how engaged our fans are. It’s the highest bar to try and actually get your consumers engaged.”

eMarketer: Tell me about Heineken’s recent digital campaign, Crack The Case, a hybrid gaming/social app. Why did you use gaming and will you do more?

Lysyj: We’ve defined our consumer on Heineken as the guy we call the vibrant explorer—this guy’s all about experiences. We thought this was a cool way to bring him an experience. I don’t think I would say that gaming is in itself a strategy that we necessarily will follow on all brands at all times, but this particular game was a nice way to bring engagement to this guy who is really pushing to try new and different stuff he can talk about with his friends.

There are so many things competing for this guy’s time that if we tried to do it in all circumstances and all brands, I think we’d be talking to ourselves. But this one it just fit really well.

eMarketer: What are your plans digitally for Dos Equis [a Mexican beer brand that Heineken acquired in 2010]?

Lysyj: For Dos Equis we have this strategy of trying to get this guy to live a more interesting life. As you know, the Most Interesting Man is very aspirational for our consumers. What’s happening in our social medium with Dos Equis is we have a really high engagement in a very unusual way. Guys actually go on our Facebook page to post “most interesting man” lines. And we get about 200 users a day posting lines, which is very unusual.

eMarketer: What do you think your most successful social media campaign to date has been?

Lysyj: It’s definitely Newcastle. The thing that I love is it's allowing a very small brand to really punch above its weight. Newcastle has, I think, 0.4 share in the overall beer market, and we’re getting way more engagement and attention than the size of the brand. But I think the thing also is it’s got a lot more potential. It’s got a lot of head room to still keep growing.

A longer version of this interview is available to eMarketer Total Access clients only. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Total Access client, click here.

Check out today’s other articles, “US Gamers Race to Mobile” and “Advertisers in the UK Target, Strategize Digital Video.”

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