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Heineken seeks to dial up local adventures in social campaign

HeinekenPayphone

Actor Fred Armisen in "The Payphone"

Mobile plays a leading role in a new Heineken ad campaign rolling out this summer that invites consumers to text and tweet their way to discovering local adventures.

The multifaceted effort includes a video called “The Payphone” starring Portlandia and Saturday Night Live actor Fred Armisen inviting viewers to submit their phone numbers. It also includes a Twitter campaign it describes as a “social compass” leading to exclusive nearby events, although that aspect of the effort appears to fall short of its promise for now. 

“Heineken is creating a great opportunity by having consumers opt-in with their phone numbers with the assumption that the majority are mobile phones,” said Gay Gabrilska, vice president of media at Hipcricket. “What is great is that through the sign-up process consumers can add their phone number, Twitter and Instagram accounts, giving Heineken the ability to connect both mobile and social identities across a number of mediums.

“Once a user has opted in, Heineken immediately starts the conversation, which is the first step in having consistent interactions with their target market and staying top-of-mind the next time a consumer steps into their local grocery store or 7-Eleven to grab a six-pack. It will be interesting to see how Heineken continues the conversation with the consumers who opt-in by making sure they interact not only with those who have won a prize or receive a call, but everyone who tweets, posts on Facebook or Instagram.”

The Payphone video — posted on www.RoutineInterruptions.com — features Mr. Armisen making calls to a pay phone on the street in New York City and inviting random passers-by who answer to come across the street to experience something new and unexplained. Those who answer are asked onstage to participate in a live comedy performance. 

Changing the routine 
The campaign is part of Heineken’s wide-ranging Cities of the World promotional effort and was produced by Wieden + Kennedy New York. Heineken described Cities of the World as a series of “social experiments” that seek to take people out of their normal routines and demonstrate that the beer brand can hold the key to local adventures. 

When viewers watch The Payphone video on the Routine Interruptions site, they are prompted with an invitation to submit their phone number for the chance to be called and invited to a mystery event in their area. In partnership with FlavorPill media, Heineken said it expects to invite thousands of participants to “unique cultural activities” such as secret concerts in living rooms with Sofar Sounds and dinner with underground social dining club Dinner Lab. 

Although the campaign appears to be a potential tool for building a database of mobile-enabled fans, that was not the goal, according to a spokeswoman for the brand.

"We are not using mobile as a customer-acquisition tool," said Tara Rush, senior director of corporate communications. She declined further comment.

The Twitter aspect of the campaign seems to be off to a shaky start. Consumers are being asked to tweet @wherenext to receive a recommendation to local events in their area.

However, most of the tweets to that address appear to return a response that Heineken “can’t find you” and provide a link to a Web site where users are reminded that they must geolocate their tweet.
Heineken is known for innovative advertising and marketing, which goes beyond beer by associating the brand with socializing and having fun, Ms. Gabrilska said.

"The instant gratification with a stay tuned’ message adds a bit of mystery to the campaign. But what is truly unique is it takes mobile engagement well beyond a simple text message acknowledging you’ve signed up, to include Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and traditional marketing to deliver a well-thought-out, holistic approach to the campaign." 

As consumers who sign up start receiving real-time, proactive information about the happenings in their city, that personalization will go a long way with the brand's target audience, Ms. Gabrilska said. Even if the Twitter response did not seem to be fully functioning at launch, it still serves to get get fans involved.

“The social aspect of this campaign is really cool on its own – letting consumers share across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook is a great way to get people involved in the conversation," said Ms. Gabrilska. "Heineken has taken it a step further by including traditional media to reach an even broader audience with TV spots featuring Portlandia’s Fred Armisten, which brings a quirky, hip vibe to the campaign.”

Final Take
Mark Hamstra is content director at Mobile Marketer, New York

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Related content: Advertising, Heineken, Twitter, Fred Armisen, Portlandia, The Payphone, texting

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