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Heineken socializes sampling in large-scale effort targeting bar-goers

In one of the largest social sampling programs to date, Heineken is leveraging Facebook and Twitter to give away free beers to smartphone owners at participating restaurants and bars. 

By pairing social media with social settings such as restaurants and bars, Heineken hopes to reach existing and potential customers in an innovative way. A smartphone is required to participate and once the offer is activated, users must provide a digital Gratafy code when paying their bill to receive their Heineken, Heineken Light or Dos Equis beer.

?The reality is that our consumers? daily lives are powered by mobile and social media,? said Betsy Paynter, media manager at Heineken USA. ?This program gives consumers the chance to be in control of where and when they redeem their samples, as opposed to the traditional system where sampling events are dictated by brands and retailers. 

?Using social media as the core touch-point allows us to reach the most qualified customers at the right time and bring scale to our sampling efforts,? she said. ?This program allows us to truly link the digital and offline world for the first time.?

Experiential marketing
The social sampling campaign runs through November and will reach consumers through social media in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Houston. Consumers in these cities will be offered a free Heineken, Heineken Light or Dos Equis that can be redeemed at restaurants or bars partnered with experiential marketing platform Gratafy.

Consumers in Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco will be rewarded for engaging with the recent #SubwaySymphony campaign with an offer to receive a complementary Heineken or Heineken Light. 

In these cities, Heineken is encouraging consumers to explore their city by enjoying a Heineken beer at a bar of their choice. 


Consumers who click on the offer will be directed to a mobile-optimized site where they will be asked to input their mobile phone number to send the page to their smartphone. From there, they can choose a bar, get a Gratafy code, order a beer at the bar and provide the code. 

The Dos Equis offer will coincide with the brand?s annual Masquerade campaign in October, with consumers in Los Angeles and Houston receiving an offer from one of the brand?s ambassadors, the Most Interesting Man in the World, for a free beer. 

In Los Angeles and San Francisco, consumers will also be asked to complete a brief survey.

Social sampling heats up
Per Heineken, this is the largest social sampling program ever via Facebook and the first time that a brand has partnered with Twitter to sample beer. 

The company reports that its customers are most active on Facebook and Twitter, making these the ideal platforms for the program. 

Gratafy redemption codes are generated per user, per smartphone device and are only valid for a one-time use at the associated restaurant or bar chosen by the user until the expiration date shown on the screen. 


The Heineken campaign is the latest example of how social sampling is heating up as a marketing trend.

Mondelez International recently said it is partnering with  social product sampling platform Sampler and Albertsons to drive sampling for the Ritz brand in the United States. The company encourages fans of a brand on Facebook to request a sample or to share samples with Facebook friends who fit the target market, helping brands create customized sampling strategies (see story).

?The experience is a mobile Web experience powered by Gratafy that guides the user through getting their beer in 3 simple steps,? said Ryan Halper, co-founder of Gratafy. ?First, the consumer must pass an age-gate verifying the consumer to be 21. 

?Once it has been confirmed that they are of age, the consumer will then select a restaurant or bar within their city from a list of participating Gratafy partners,? he said. ?Finally, they will be asked to review a few facts about Heineken or complete a brief survey to obtain their unique redemption code.  

?Consumers on Facebook and Twitter will be offered the ability to sample a Heineken beer via paid media and social shares that automatically link to the experience. To participate it is not necessary for them download an app or register for Gratafy.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York