Heineken Light is bringing Neil Patrick Harris back for a U.S. campaign as the brand takes a different approach overseas where it's preparing a European push.
Mr. Harris -- who is also starring in a just-released spot for Apple -- will continue his taste-focused pitching for Heineken Light that began in 2014. In a new ad he appears beside a lawyer character who fact-checks his claims. She disagrees that the brew "lets you control people's minds," but concurs with his assertion that Heineken Light is "the best light beer you've ever tasted." The ad is by Publicis Worldwide.
"This year's campaign more than others lets Neil be Neil," Ralph Rijks, senior VP-marketing for the Heineken megabrand at Heineken USA, said in an email interview. "These were the most fun to shoot, and his improv skills we think came through perfectly on camera."
The brand is planning a total of two TV commercials and four digital videos in 2016.
Sales of Heineken Light have been mostly confined to the U.S., where light beers have historically found the most success. But Heineken has plans to distribute the light lager in Europe. The first market is Ireland, where the beer recently went on sale.
The overseas campaign is handled by Rothco of Dublin. Ads will show Heineken Light conducting fictional screen tests to find its new spokesperson. The first spot (below) features a cheesy character named Jonny Goode, who shows some skin in hopes of winning the part. The director of the spot is Radical Media's Steve Miller, who is the director behind Heineken USA's "Most Interesting Man" campaign for Dos Equis.
"We thought it would be apt of Heineken's witty style to show that the search for this spokesperson wasn't going to be easy. Hence, we created a series of characters, with universal humor that we could have fun with," said Alan Kelly, Rothco's executive creative director.
In the U.S., Heineken Light remains a fairly small brand, ranking No. 14 among imported beers, according to Beer Marketer's Insights. The brew's shipments fell 3% last year, according to the publication. In the 52 weeks ending April 14, Heineken Light dollar sales slid 2.9% to nearly $57 million, according to IRI, which does not include bar sales. Regular Heineken grew sales by 1.5% in that period to $732.4 million.