19 Jun 2013

Heineken drops a major branded content series

Legends aren't born, they're dropped. 

That's the tagline behind premium beer brand Heineken's new foray into the world of branded entertainment, with an online adventure series called ‘Dropped’.  The series, which the media has described as Survivor meets Jackass, aims to uncover what men are truly made of when they are taken out of the comfort zone of their daily lives and dropped (literally) into the unknown.  

Created as part of Heineken’s latest global ad campaign, the branded entertainment series sees the premium beer brand drop men from around the world into remote locations with very basic supplies.

'Dropped' launched this month when Heineken took a social sun-loving Spainard called Rikar Gil and dropped him in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

“Imagine the situation. You are a highly social character, out-going and confident. You get chosen to go on a legendary adventure - something you have never done before - a new experience that will test your resourcefulness. But then you find yourself in the freezing wilderness of Alaska - alone on a glacier, with nothing but a giant life-ring, a tuxedo and a plane ticket to get you home - and the airport is hundreds of miles away.”

The online series plans to mirror the type of bizarre experiences the brand displays in its series of Legends TVCs (below), particularly the most recent ad Voyage and Heineken is calling it the most daring experiment yet.

Heineken global communications director, Sandrine Huijgen said "With Voyage, the fifth installment of our Legends campaign, We want to go further than inspiring men to be resourceful and open to the world. We are giving a few of them the opportunity to go beyond the borders of their comfort zone. 'Dropped' is a social experiment that will challenge the participant to display their true character and if they do, have a legendary travel experience."

Heineken is calling for intrepid adventurers to apply for the series by submitting videos via the brand’s YouTube channel for a chance to ‘partake in their own legendary adventure’. Each adventure will be made up of three episodes as well as behind the scenes activity. 

Heineken will tailor each adventure to the character of its main protagonist - forcing them to discover their own limits and conquer their fears. "Across four continents they'll face a multitude of challenges - tough terrain, curious locals and unusual modes of transport. As the 'Dropped' episodes unfold, so the social experiment will come to life, with viewers of each voyage able to follow how each traveller fares through a series of diary entries and journey updates."

The outcome of each 'Dropped' adventure is completely unscripted, however Heineken has supplied helpers and situations which help keep the action moving.  

The series will play out through a dedicated YouTube channel and on Heineken.com is supported through activity across broadcast, digital and mobile channels as well as onpack promotion. 


Wieden + Kennedy executive creative director Mark Bernath told Fast Company the aim of the series is to bring the core idea of the advertising to life using real people.  “You can relate to the guys in the commercials on a certain level, but on another level, they’re so awesome in 90 seconds you wonder if you can pull it all off. But most guys are legendary in their own right, so we’re trying to widen the embrace beyond whether you relate to the guy in the spot or not.”

“It’s about giving real people a real opportunity to prove the skills they have. It’s obviously a little more humble and real,” adds Wieden+Kennedy Executive Creative Director Eric Quennoy.

Quennoy says the series idea came from posing the question: ‘What’s the greatest version of the idea of being out of your comfort zone and using your skills and wits to get out of it?'

It's easy to see why Heinken went for the idea, it really is a fitting extension of the strategy. The idea of a branded reality style web series is not entirely original, no need it be in this case given how perfect it is for the brand and its strategy. Offering men the chance to be a Man of the World, to attempt to meet all that the adventure throws at you with charm and style, this is bound to be a kicker. Also they get to drink Heineken which is a pretty big draw card too. 

Heineken have built a huge global audience through being cool and authentic. Despite the protaganist of their advertising being a construct that could never be real, the legendary appeal of the character is so inspiring and aspriational that audiences across the globe have been able to embrace the idea, regardless of cultural differences - An impressive achievement. 

Heineken is not about beer it's about being a man, but not in that grunty, testosterone-fueled blokey way this is a modern man and a premium beer and the stuff that legends are made of. 

With 'Dropped' Heineken have created a series, which fits perfectly with the brands Man of the World strategy, which is brought to life in the ongoing advertising campaign Legends.

The men in the ads have been able to cope with every unexpected obstacle thrown at them, all the while displaying the suave, resolve and resourcefulness of the Man of the World. This was particularly fitting in the last campaign, which saw our Heineken hero share a drink, and a large amount of obstacles with James Bond (aka Daniel Craig) thanks to Heineken’s Skyfall sponsorship deal. (see more here)

Heineken's strategy with Man of the World has been to appeal to a global audience of men by positioning the premium beer brand, and those who drink it, as legendary. It is the beer of legendary experiences, which come from a culmination of incredible feats and occurances.

The Man of the World is resourceful, imaginative, inventive and charming, he is able to deal with any situation and quite frankly he's pretty damn legendary. Women want to be with him,  men want to be him and Heineken wants to celebrate him and in doing so showcase the legend in all of us. 

With ‘Dropped’ Heineken does just that, by taking the Man of the World character into the real world and giving real men the chance to be put to the test in a series of legendary and quite bizarre experiences. 

I think this is one of the best examples I’ve seen of a brand bringing its marketing strategy to life through branded entertainment. For me what I love most is the way Heineken and the creative agency Wieden +  Kennedy have executed this. What it demonstrates so brilliantly is how you can bring your strategy to life with branded entertainment without creating an extended version of the ads and calling it branded entertainment. 

So often we see this matching luggage approach to campaigns and as brands push into the branded entertainment space and attempt to execute transmedia ideas we end up with a similar story across all the platforms. 

Heineken and W+K have pushed beyond that to create a truly transmedia idea: a story brought to life across a range of different platforms with each telling a different part of the story. 

The strategy and central idea are reinforced in every execution from the packaging to the advertising to the promotions to the branded entertainment series, it's a great example of how to bring transmedia to life in your advertising and marketing. 

  • A superb achievement from Heineken, I give it 4 stars. 




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8 May 2016

My toddler also rolls sideways on hills. What is UP with that, anyway?As for what’s better with kids for me – my in-laws. I am the deliverer of the first two, and so far only, grnhdcnildrea. I went from that chick who married their son to their hero in 9 months flat. That kind of rocks.Also? Summer. Better with children. I have an excuse to hang out in wading pools and run through sprinklers and chase the ice cream truck. That’s totally made of awesome.

4 May 2016

Now that's sublte! Great to hear from you.
Jeremy Garling

16 Sep 2014

The execution is fantastic, and the playful manner in which the product is integrated is spot on...does it make me want to drink this beer?

Unlike the last review with the Volvo...maybe not straight away, but re-enforces the long term positioning of the brand and that has to be a key, changing positioning every two years or so just confuses the market. So, agreed...nice work Heineken.

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