Cannes Lions

The Virtual Heineken Silver

PUBLICIS ITALY, Milan / HEINEKEN / 2022

Awards:

3 Silver Cannes Lions
1 Bronze Cannes Lions
3 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

Heineken had to launch a new light beer for a young target audience. And nowadays, all the brands trying to appeal to young people are jumping on the latest trend of the Metaverse. For many brands, the virtual world is a cool place to make people experience their product in a fresh way. But that is not true for every product and especially not for beer. Because the Metaverse is actually the only place where you can’t enjoy the refreshing taste of a real beer.

Idea

To demonstrate that the virtual world isn’t always better than the real one, we ironically jumped on the metaverse trend by launching the first virtual beer that you are not able to hold or drink or taste. The virtual beer was promoted as if it was a new beer that consumers could try for themselves. Only problem, once they interacted with the new virtual Silver in the metaverse, they had the realisation that they weren't able to taste it. Hence, we induced them the need and expectation to try the new beer for real. Starting with a PR launch in a virtual brewery in Decentraland, the virtual beer was available on an AR app, oculus, and as a snapchat filter. The new virtual beer was launched as if it was a real product with a social and influencer campaign and with a DOOH campaign all across Europe.

Strategy

Heineken needed to connect with youth consumers and launch its new beer with a Gen-z first campaign. But how could we connect with a younger audience when for them the coolest things around are virtual, while beer has always been a tool to connect people in real life? We decided to show that the metaverse is great for many things, but when it comes to socialising the real world is better.

So, we opened a virtual brewery on Decentraland and organised a Press event where we invited influencers and journalists to taste Heinken’s new virtual beer. The launch was amplified with a social, OOH and influencer campaign and activations on POS all across Europe. And when the news of how absurd the new virtual drink was started to spread on social media, everyone went crazy, actually asking for the real beer.

Execution

In March we opened a virtual brewery in Decentraland and organised a press event where people, journalists and influencers, could virtually taste our new beer. The design of the place was created by the artist Demsky. The whole virtual experience in the brewery was an ironic joke to poke fun at the absurdity of a virtual beer: we offered the most expensive food and the most unique experiences, that would only make sense in the real world though.

To allow people to grab a virtual beer we created a Snapchat and an AR filter and to let people enjoy it with friends we made it available for Oculus and virtual meetings.

On social media and OOH, we launched a copyAd campaign to promote the absurdity of our undrinkable beer, together with three videos of avatars trying to try the virtual Heineken Silver. Each video was created to recall a specific video game style so as to appeal to a wider range of gamers. The virtual beer was virtually everywhere: we used each and every buzzy digital tech - AR, VR, phygital, crypto worlds and we even brought it to the real world on shelves, in bars and we delivered it to people’s doors. Sort of.

And after one month, when everybody realised how silly a virtual drink was, we broke out of the metaverse and we launched the real Silver through a DOOH campaign. Starting from Piccadilly deepscreen, avatars started to break into the real world and the virtual beer transformed into the real one. And then we organised a series of Metabar parties across Europe, where the virtual world met the real one and people were finally able to taste Heineken Silver, for real. The campaign travelled across 30+ markets.

Outcome

This has been the biggest launch in the drink industry in Europe in the last decade:

After only one week, the Heineken Silver launch was already the most successful launch in Heineken’s history. With 266K+ social interaction and 1350+ hours spent in front of a virtual beer. The campaign got 2K+ press mentions across the globe and 1.7B+ impressions.

We reached 30+ countries - even 13 where we didn’t actually launch. And as a result, the campaign generated a 172% increase in purchase interest.

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