Heineken Figures Out a Way to Talk Politics in Advertising

Courtesy of Ilya S. Savenok / Getty Images
And obviously it's over a beer.

Some beer drinkers believe that everyone in the world could get along if they’d just sit down and share a brew together. The extent to which this concept is true is up for debate (maybe a debate over a brew!): Obviously, opening up a dialogue is a great first step to resolving any problem, but at the same time, drinking a few too many beers is known to cause problems all its own. Now, a new ad campaign from Heineken attempts to actually put this theory to the test.

The Dutch-based beer brand launched its “Open Your World” campaign last week with a four-minute video called “Worlds Apart.”

 

The ad, billed as “an experiment,” enlisted three sets of two strangers with diametrically opposing views on major topics—feminism, climate change and transgenderism. “Each knows nothing about the other or what the experiment will involve,” Heineken writes. The duos are put through what could be described as a set of teambuilding exercises—building IKEA-like stools; a personal Q&A; and some final heavy lifting, constructing a bar. Then, the big reveal: Each person is forced to watch a prerecorded video of the other person’s political views. The final choice: Will each pair choose to sit down at the bar they’ve built, share a Heineken and talk through their differences?

Since “Worlds Apart” is an advertising campaign, it’s fair to question the scientific stringency of this “experiment” as much as you’d question a study about the health effects of soda paid for by Coca-Cola. But speaking of soda, Heineken’s efforts are being discussed in contrast to the recent Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad that attempted to take on our current social climate in far more outrageously superficial terms. Notably, though all of Heineken’s pairings agreed to sit down for a beer, the video shows very little of the conversation that happened after the fact, meaning the beer brand doesn’t try to paint a glossy portrait of Dutch lagers being able to solve our problems, just that people will sit down for a free beer when they know they’re on camera.

But Heineken’s campaign also includes a larger purpose. The beer brand is partnering with “The Human Library”  a non-profit that tries to combat stereotypes by “running events where you can talk to real people with extraordinary backgrounds.” The group essentially “loans” out people with interesting backgrounds to talk to others about their situations—as a refugee, facing homelessness, dealing with autism, etc. Heineken will be holding two events where attendees will have their own chance to “share a beer with someone unexpected,” presumably people from The Human Library. It’s an interesting tie in for an organization doing interesting work.

So sure, a Heineken ad campaign is as about as likely to solve the world’s problems as a six-pack of the stuff will solve your personal ones. But at least as far as corporate offerings go, this effort is a step up from what Kendall Jenner’s agent signed her up for.

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