Heineken Strikes Deal With Facebook

'Consequential' New Pact Is for Consulting, Product Access

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Facebook and Heineken are joining forces in a new global deal in which the brewer will pay for consulting and early access to new products, Heineken said today.

The agreement, which follows a more than $10 million deal the social network struck this year with liquor giant Diageo, comes as Facebook seeks to cozy up with big advertisers in advance of its IPO.

The Heineken deal begins Jan. 1, but the brewer was vague on other terms. It declined to specify the length or dollar value of the arrangement, saying only that it was "consequential." Facebook referred inquiries to Heineken. (The Diageo deal involved a commitment to buy Facebook ads.)

"Through this agreement, Facebook will provide Heineken with a global marketing platform that reaches millions of people as well as access to Facebook's deep expertise in building long-term relationships between brands and their audiences," Heineken said in a statement. "The collaboration also provides Heineken with access to Facebook's latest products." The deal is nonexclusive, presumably meaning that nothing stops other brewers from striking similar arrangements. (Indeed, Diageo sells Guinness beer.)

Joanna Shields, Facebook VP-managing director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said in a statement: "Heineken has always been a true innovator when it comes to giving brands an authentic voice, and together with Facebook they can now extend that human touch to 800 million people around the world."

Heineken -- the world's third-largest brewer by market share, according to Euromonitor -- is already quite active digitally. Earlier this year the marketer struck a multimillion deal with Facebook competitor Google in which it agreed to advertise on Google platforms including YouTube in return for consulting, audience targeting and joint research projects. Asked how the Facebook deal would affect the Google pact, Heineken told Ad Age : "These are two different platforms [that ] ... complement Heineken's strategy to be 'part of the conversation.' Facebook is a social media network, where You Tube is more of a digital entertainment channel."

Facebook is targeting top brands as it seeks to narrow its ad revenue gap with Google. According to eMarketer, Facebook's 2011 online ad revenue share is 6.4%, vs. Google's 40.8%.

Heineken said the deal would not alter its relationship with advertising agencies. The brewer's global digital agency is AKQA. In the U.S., Heineken's creative agencies include Wieden & Kennedy, New York, for flagship Heineken brands, and Euro RSCG for Dos Equis. Heineken is currently looking to consolidate global media planning and buying at one agency, pitting roster shops Publicis Groupe 's Starcom MediaVest and WPP's MindShare against each other in a review that will be completed by mid 2012.

Among Heineken's first efforts with Facebook will be an online campaign designed to promote responsible drinking.

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