Heineken USA & Latin America advertising & marketing assignments

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Selected Heineken advertising

Heineken is the #4 beer company in the US and a keen rival to AmBev across Latin America. For years, the Heineken brand was the biggest imported beer in the US. It was overtaken in the 1990s by Corona and has struggled ever since to climb back out of second place despite a substantial marketing spend. As a result, in 2004, the group strengthened its US portfolio by taking over distribution duties for Corona's Mexican arch-rivals Dos Equis and Tecate beers, then produced by FEMSA of Mexico. In 2010, the group tightened its grip on that portfolio, and also established a wider presence in Latin America, by buying out FEMSA's brewery division. That business, Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma or CCM, is Mexico's #2 brewer with six breweries in Mexico, producing three of the country's top five beers in Sol, Tecate and Carta Blanca. (Heineken licensed US rights for Sol to rival Miller Coors in 2017, but it still controls that brand in all other countries). Outright ownership of CCM also encouraged the group to launch an even bigger push for Dos Equis in the US, with the support of the immensely popular "most interesting man in the world" ad campaign. Another deal was the acquisition of Californian craft ale brewer Lagunitas. The buyout of CCM also gave Heineken control of Brazilian brewer Cervejarias Kaiser, and in 2017, it agreed to acquire Japanese brewer Kirin's local operations in Brazil for around $700m. The combined business is the #2 brewer in Brazil though still a considerable distance behind local leader AmBev. Heineken also has joint control with Quinenco of Chile of CCU, a leading brewer in Chile and Argentina. In the US, Heineken shipped around 6.7m barrels in 2019, equivalent to 3.3% market share. Heineken sat just outside the Top Ten brands, with volumes of 3.8m barrels. Dos Equis had 1.5m, while Tecate had 0.7m. Marc Busain is regional president. The Americas is the group's biggest region by beer volumes (ahead of Europe), accounting for 85.4m hl in 2021, or 37% of the group total. The Heineken brand alone accounted for 19.6m hl. Regional net revenues were €7.2bn. Brazil and Mexico are the two largest markets for the whole global Heineken group.

Capsule checked 22nd January 2021

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Which agencies handle advertising for Heineken? Find out more from Adbrands Account Assignments

Who are the competitors of Heineken? See Alcoholic Beverages Sector for other companies

Historical profile information for Heineken

Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Social Media 4th Dec 2018: "Chase". It's just like every day in the Adbrands office... Talent Marcel in Sao Paulo is behind this insane campaign for a new guarana-enhanced version of popular soft drink Itubaina, from what is now Heineken Brazil. (It was previously part of the old Schincariol brewery business, bought by Heineken from Kirin last year). Clearly, the Talent creative team had consumed several cases of the caffeine-rich product before coming up with such craziness. We hope someone was able to talk them back down again.

Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Nov 2018: The week's biggest account move was the transfer of media for the Heineken USA portfolio from Starcom to Canvas Worldwide, the joint venture between Horizon Media and South Korean agency Innocean. 

Adbrands Social Media 18th Jun 2018: There are more smiles than belly laughs in Publicis New York's latest for Heineken USA but at the very least it recovers some of the ground lost by that controversial, supposedly racist campaign for Heineken Light, and is far superior to those grim spots featuring Benicio del Toro. The squares' party is especially well characterised. We're not quite so sure about the hipsters' hangout. Would they really still be playing that old surfing chestnut Surfin' Bird in 2018? 

Adbrands Weekly Update 7th Jun 2018: Heineken named Maggie Timoney as CEO of its US division from September, replacing Ronald den Elzen who is moving to an as yet unspecified global role. Timoney previously led the brewer's Irish subsidiary. She becomes the first female CEO of any major American beer company.

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.

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