Heineken’s “Moderate Drinkers Wanted” Spot: Freud Would Approve

Boelter + Lincoln, blog, Heineken

Like all major brewers, Heineken regularly launches responsible drinking campaigns, and with good reason. It helps them to stave off undue regulation, keep advocacy groups in check and generally look responsible and civic-minded—while still raising brand awareness. Unfortunately, many of these campaigns are so creatively lackluster that they seem like an afterthought, leaving no lingering brand imprint on the public mind. 

Heineken’s new effort could change that.

Launching in 30 worldwide markets this week, the brand’s new “Moderate Drinkers Wanted” campaign features a series of attractive young women belting out the ‘80s hit “Holding Out for a Hero” as they are ignoring—or flat-out ditching—sluggishly inebriated male companions. The campaign is ostensibly based on a recent study of 5,000 premium beer drinkers between 21 and 35 years old, which showed that millennials considered responsible drinking cool and sophisticated. What it is unofficially based on is the Freudian theory that sex is one of man’s primary motivations (and I would argue particularly for men, and particularly for young men).

Nowhere has this strategy been employed more consistently than in the brewing industry—a product category in which some 80% of all sales are to men, mostly between the ages of 21 to 45. However, rather than showing bikini-clad babes or other commonly used images of female objectification, Heineken flips the “sex sells” rule on its head. In these spots, women control the dynamic of the relationship—and if their dates get drunk, they clearly won’t get lucky. Not only is this a unique (and thus more memorable) take on the responsible drinking message, I think it will be more impactful than images of police officers and jail cells. In the male mind, getting dumped by your date may be worse than getting arrested.

While Freud wasn’t a beer marketer, he probably could have been… and he would have applauded this campaign. I certainly do.