The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2016

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Page 46 of 148

46  /  the tasting panel  /  january-february 2016 46  /  the tasting panel  /  january-february 2016 F or decades, millions of soccer fans around the world have had a Heineken in hand when watching their favorite teams in action. As 2016 approaches, company Senior Vice President Ralph Rijks details Heineken's latest goal: getting the globally- beloved beer into the hands of America's growing legions of soccer fans, via its 360° SOCCER IS HERE campaign. While Heineken has long been engaged in worldwide UEFA Champions League sponsorship, 2015 saw the brand deepening its inroads into the U.S. market. Heineken is now the official beer sponsor of Major League Soccer (MLS), and with soccer being one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S., Rijks feels it is uniquely positioned within the import category to fortify strong brand loyalty through its successful track record with soccer. "Millennials and Hispanics are important demographics for us, and our U.S. soccer campaign will appeal to [those targets]," projects Rijks. "Soccer fans are 50 percent more likely to buy a European import, and we're the #1 selling European beer among U.S. soccer fans. We are confident the 360° SOCCER IS HERE program will further promote soccer among US LDA+ consumers through digital, social and on-premise/ off-premise activations while increasing Heineken sales among soccer fans all along their path to purchase." Freshly minted SOCCER IS HERE TV commer- cials—which will begin airing in March, supporting the kickoff of the MLS season—will celebrate the spirit of U.S. soccer fans while piquing the interest of those not yet into the sport, getting both groups to head to their local bar to watch the latest match. On-premise, Heineken will promote soccer viewing with POS and on-site promotions that capture the excitement soccer has long enjoyed around the globe. "Heineken is the perfect brand to promote soccer, as our drinkers are nearly 20 percent more likely to watch soccer than the average consumer," continues Rijks. "As we support soccer in the U.S. through our MLS and UCL sponsorships, we want all soccer fans to think of Heineken as their beer of choice when watching soccer." Social networking will also play a prominent role, with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube creatively utilized to reach 60 percent of all soccer fans with content that will support UCL, MLS and SOCCER IS HERE platforms. There is also an interactive digital desktop/tablet/smartphone-compatible soccer hub launching that will serve as the U.S. fan's portal for both soccer leagues and matches, including: play schedules, countdown to match days and a product locator for the nearest Heineken retailer. Taking the interactive elements of the campaign even further, Rijks notes that there will also be a digital SOCCER IS HERE content/film series, including Get Me in There, which takes consumers on a trip across the nation to experience unique soccer supporter cultures in different cities. "We are integrating this platform with key media partners ESPN, FOX, Univision and MLS," Rijks says. "We will air 40 weeks of general market and Hispanic market TV and online video to maintain a continuous presence throughout the year. Furthermore, we will also air multiple break bumpers throughout every UCL match, pitch signage at every UCL and MLS broad- cast match, among other things." By the looks of things, soccer is indeed here to stay in the U.S., and with Heineken's help, it's not going anywhere . . . but up! BEER THE LEADING GLOBAL BEER BRAND GETS AMERICANS INTO THE (SOCCER) GAME WITH ITS AMBITIOUS, MULTI-PLATFORM CAMPAIGN by Elyse Glickman Getting Your Kicks with Heineken

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