Family-controlled Heineken became the world's second largest brewer during 2016 and owns the best-selling premium beer brand. It manufactures its own products through a huge and wide-ranging network of 100 breweries in more than 50 countries, and licenses the operation to other companies where it doesn't have its own plant. The company also owns a wide variety of subsidiary beer brands including Amstel and Murphy's Irish Stout worldwide, Tiger in Asia, Cruzcampo and Moretti in Europe, among many others. After a slow start, Heineken has entered wholeheartedly into the consolidation of the global beer industry since 2007. That year, it launched a joint bid to break up the UK's Scottish & Newcastle in partnership with Carlsberg. Completion of that deal the following year established Heineken as the leading brewer in the UK. In 2010, it expanded its footprint in Latin America with the acquisition of Mexico's second largest brewer FEMSA, adding Sol, Tecate and Dos Equis to its worldwide portfolio. Subsequent purchases include Singaporean brewer Asia Pacific Breweries, owner of Tiger Beer; and Schincariol in Brazil.
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Adbrands Weekly Update 29th Mar 2018: Heineken was the latest advertiser to fall into the trap of accidental racism in a (pretty awful) global campaign by Publicis for its new Heineken Light beer, marketed under the slogan "Sometimes, lighter is better". There are several versions of the main ad, but all show a bartender spotting a thirsty customer who is declining the offer of a high-calorie beverage such as wine or a cocktail. Instead he slides a Heineken Light beer to the customer down an impossibly long counter. The problem? In the main version, the beer passes by three different, and very dark-skinned, black customers before it reaches the light-skinned Asian girl for whom it is intended. "Lighter is better"? What were they thinking? Chance the Rapper was the first African-American to call out the ad for its implications, though his initial take was that the slur was intentional to get people talking about the ad. That overly paranoid suggestion is ridiculous of course. No one with any sense believes the ad was deliberately racist, but the oversight resurrects once again the arguments voiced over Unilever's digital ad for Dove last October which showed a black girl removing her sweater to reveal a white girl underneath. Any black creative director would have recognised the unfortunate implication in the juxtaposition of the visuals and the tagline. But there are so few black creative directors in the industry that mistakes like this keep being made. Heineken for its part quickly withdrew the campaign and apologised for any misunderstanding. Coincidentally this week, the US Association of National Advertisers released a demographic breakdown of its members this week. Of the 747 most senior marketers on its books, only 3% were African Americans, less than Hispanics and Asians who each accounted for 5%. One positive at least was the fact that 45% overall were women, and the percentage was significantly higher in the banking & financial services and sports & entertainment sectors.
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Feb 2018: Heineken, now the world's second largest brewer, reported solid performance for 2017. Total beer volumes rose 3% on an organic basis to 218m hectolitres of beer worldwide. There were gains in all business regions, although the rise in Europe was just 0.2%, compared to between 3% and 9% elsewhere. Revenues rose by 5% to €21.9bn. The absence of the prior year's various impairment charges allowed net profit to jump by almost 26% to €1.94bn. Separately, the brewer announced the resignation of US chief marketing officer Nuno Teles, who has been named as president of Diageo's US beer division, with responsibility for Guinness, Harp and Smirnoff Ice. Jonnie Cahill, currently the group's senior commerce director for low and no-alcohol brands, will succeed Teles as CMO for Heineken USA.
Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Sep 2017: Ads of the Week "The Last Duel". Did they put something in the water at Publicis Italia? With the exception of its Paris flagship, the wider Publicis network isn't generally noted for exceptional creative work. Indeed, it's comparatively rare that we feature any other outposts in this feed. But the past couple of weeks has seen the arrival of two excellent campaigns from the Italian office, also it must be noted home to the network's recently appointed global creative chief Bruno Bertelli. (The other is the new Diesel ad - see it on our Facebook page). After a slow start, Publicis Italy has now really hit its stride with this new campaign for Heineken, which - finally! - is just as good as anything from previous agency W&K. Not only do the cinematic pastiches work brilliantly, but the agency also manages to coax strong performance out of a trio of footballers, not as a breed generally noted for their acting skills (at least off the pitch!) Gooooooal! Here's a Barry Lyndon homage with Jerzy Dudek. You'll find the other two campaigns - including a clever Blade Runner pastiche - on our Facebook page.
Adbrands Weekly Update 11th May 2017: Craft beer is still booming in the US. Heineken doubled down with the purchase of the 50% it didn't already own in California brewer Lagunitas. No price was disclosed, but it was probably steep. Craft beers and imports are providing the only growth in an otherwise falling market. Sales of Lagunitas IPA rose 17% last year to around 7m cases. However Heineken and others have plenty of work ahead if they are to catch up with AB InBev, which has already hoovered up more than a dozen small local breweries. Latest addition to its "High End" craft division is North Carolina's Wicked Weed Brewery, acquired this week.
Adbrands Weekly Update 4th May 2017: Ads of the Week "Trailblazers". Since Heineken dropped Wieden & Kennedy as its global creative agency in favour of Publicis two years ago, the brewer has lost the wit and inventiveness for which its ads used to be known, but the new agency adds spectacle. This latest campaign is the most lavishly produced to-date, with all the CG effects that top prodco MPC can muster. But that doesn't disguise the fact that the underlying concept - that old chestnut of four blokes on their way to the bar - is in serious need of an upgrade.
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Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: Produced from a superior form of specially developed yeast (which the company still produces exclusively in Holland and ships to its global breweries and partners), Heineken was first introduced in 1863. That year Gerard Heineken purchased "the Haystack", a brewery in Amsterdam that was already around 300 years old, and began brewing his own beers. By 1876, he was exporting to France and by 1894, to the US. The company was the first brewery to resume exports of beer to the United States following the repeal of Prohibition, and quickly established itself as the country's #1 imported beer. Meanwhile, Heineken was expanding its international operations elsewhere, forming a joint venture in Singapore in 1931, now called Asia Pacific Breweries. Other acquisitions followed in Asia, South America and Africa.
By 1955, half of the beer produced in Holland was manufactured for export, and the company continued to acquire breweries in other countries. In 1968 Heineken bought the Amstel Brewery in Holland and its own chain of international breweries. The company's growth accelerated even faster after 1971, when the business passed to Alfred "Freddy" Heineken. During the 1940s, he was sent by his father to the US to learn American marketing techniques. He put these into practice in the 1970s, making Heineken into a household name with a series of memorable marketing campaigns, not least the "Refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach" TV ads (originally created by what was then Lowe Howard-Spink in London), which ran in the UK for more than 30 years). In addition, in 1983, the brewery expanded its range to become a producer of stout through the acquisition of James J Murphy in Cork, Ireland, makers of Murphy's.
In 1991, the company cemented its position in the US, buying out long-established family-run importers Van Munching & Co. It also began to expand into Eastern Europe with the purchase of Hungary's Komaromi Sorgyar brewery. The 1990s saw a string of further acquisitions including Italian brewery Birra Moretti, France's Fischer Group, Slovakia's Zlaty Bazant and Poland's Zaklady Piwowarskie. In 1998, the group merged four Polish breweries to form Zwyiec Group. In 1999 Heineken agreed to acquire Diageo's majority stake in leading Spanish brewer Cruzcampo, merging that business with its existing El Aguila brand. However regulators forced the group to sell off all but its three leading beer brands, Heineken, El Aguila and Cruzcampo.
The group was also rumoured to be among the bidders for UK beer companies Bass and Whitbread. However Belgian arch-rival Interbrew acquired both. (Interbrew was later forced to relinquish Bass). The deal created a problem for Heineken, in that it was left without a licensing arrangement in the UK, one of its key markets. Whitbread had held the UK license for Heineken since 1968. Following the sale of its beer business to Interbrew, Whitbread leased back from the Belgian company one of the breweries included in the sale and continued to produce Heineken under license until the end of 2002 in order to satisfy their contractual obligations.
Meanwhile Heineken continued to add to its portfolio elsewhere in the world, acquiring Gemer and Martiner breweries in Slovakia and Affligem in Belgium. Early in 2001, the group became majority shareholder in Nigerian Breweries, the #2 beermaker in Africa. It also took its first steps into Germany, acquiring a 49.9% stake in BrauHolding International, a subsidiary of German conglomerate Schorghuber.
The group extended its reach in Brazil in early 2002, increasing its stake in local brewer Kaiser, the Brazilian licensee for Heineken, to 20%. At the same time the Dutch company gave its support to the acquisition of the rest of Kaiser by Canadian brewer Molson. The group also acquired Russian brewer Bravo International, whose brands include Ohota, Botchkarov and the local license for Lowenbrau; as well as Egypt's only brewery, Al Ahram Beverages. Other purchase included a 45% stake in Karlsberg International Brand, which ranks about 12th among German brewers, in partnership with its German partner, BrauHolding; and also a 50% stake in the holding company controlling CCU.
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