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Brewed, Not Stirred: Heineken Plans Major Integration With Bond Flick

Also Plans to Ditch Short-Neck Bottles and Bring New Beer Up From Mexico

By Published on . 4

A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.

Heineken is sold in long-neck bottles everywhere except U.S.
Heineken is sold in long-neck bottles everywhere except U.S.

Heineken USA will rely on James Bond to help push its flagship brand this year, while launching campaigns for Newcastle Brown Ale and Amstel Light, and introducing a Mexican brand, Indio, in the states. And in an unusual move, the importer will run subtitled Spanish-language TV ads for Tecate on English-language channels.

The Bond campaign will coincide with the fall release of "Skyfall," the latest installment in the long-running movie franchise. Bond, played by Daniel Craig, will star in a Heineken ad. The spot, which will run globally, is by brand agency-of -record Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam, and directed by Fredrik Bond. In the movie, Bond will swap his trademark martini for a sip of the brew -- at least in one scene. The integration, which will include Bond images on packaging, marks the largest activation in the brand's 15-year partnership with the 007 franchise, according to the brewer.

Bond "is a perfect fit for us," said Lesya Lysyj, chief marketing officer of U.S. importer Heineken USA, who outlined the 2012 advertising plans in an interview. He is the "epitome of the man of the world," referring to the name of the brand's global campaign.

Brand Heineken is the second-largest import in the U.S., trailing Corona, but it has struggled to grow in recent years. Shipments fell 2.9% in 2011, according to Beer Marketer's Insights, which tracks bar and store shipments. But sales are on the upswing, growing 3% at stores in the 52 weeks that ended Feb. 19, to $585 million, according to SymphonyIRI, which excludes Walmart and liquor stores.

Part of the strategy this year is to balance Heineken's image-heavy TV advertising with an outdoor, print and digital effort focused on the quality and tradition of Holland-brewed beer. "We haven't really talked about the beer itself. ... And when we talked to consumers we found out they don't actually really know a lot about us," Ms. Lysyj said. "The combination of the substance and style is going to be really powerful."

In 2013, Heineken will redesign its bottles and ditch the familiar short necks for long ones, Ms. Lysyj said. The brewer's global parent rolled out long necks everywhere but the U.S. last year, where Heineken USA said it kept the old ones because it wanted to differentiate the import from domestics, which tend to come in long necks. That's apparently no longer a concern. Heineken USA "tested [long necks] against a whole variety of consumer groups, and it tested really well," said spokeswoman Tara Carraro.

Here is a look at what else the importer has planned:

Newcastle Brown Ale: The debut effort by new agency Droga5 marks the first national TV campaign for the English brew under Heineken USA, which acquired it in 2008.

The old tagline, "Taste the lighter side of dark," is replaced with "No Bollocks," meant to convey a tone of lighthearted ribbing of conventional beer-selling ploys, such as fancy glassware and signs. For instance, the outdoor campaign includes a neon bar sign saying "A $400 Sign to Get You to Buy a $6 beer" and a sign that mock Stella Artois.

"We're mostly making fun of ourselves," said Ms. Lysyj. But the campaign no doubt calls out competitors. "In a category that seems to be taking itself more and more seriously, this brand is saying, 'Hey, guys, it's beer.' " Here's one of the TV spots:

See more of the Newcastle work on Creativity -online.com.

Tecate: In an eyebrow-raising maneuver, this Mexican import will run Spanish-language ads on English-language TV, using subtitles. The campaign is the first U.S. effort by Mexican agency Olabuenaga Chemistri, which took over U.S. work from Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Parnters' Hispanic unit Ramona earlier this year in a cost-cutting move by Heineken. The importer is essentially using the same ads running in Mexico for U.S. English- and Spanish-language TV. The campaign keeps the "Con Caracter" tagline and humorous slant. The brand is trying to expand from its traditional base of new U.S. immigrants to more-assimilated Hispanics. For the English-network ads, the importer will make spot buys in select markets, such as California.

"We were going to develop different advertising [for English networks]," but the Spanish spots "tested like off-the-charts funny ... so we are going to try it," Ms. Lysyj said. "A lot of consumers in those markets watch English networks but are actually Hispanics."

Indio: The importer will bring this Heineken-owned Mexican dark lager to the states for the first time, rolling it out in eight markets, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and San Antonio. The brand will target urban, acculturated Latinos, or what Heineken calls "Los Indies." No mass-media buys are planned.

Heineken Light: The importer will not make new TV ads for this brand but run the same spot that premiered last year by Wieden & Kennedy, New York, featuring a man with a handlebar mustache and the tagline "Occasionally Perfect." Asked why there won't be new ads, Ms. Lysyj said: "We still have a spot that 's far from being worn out," adding "we didn't run that much of it last summer."

Amstel Light: A new tagline, "Savor Complexity," seeks to position the beer as having "substance and depth unlike other light beers without taking itself too seriously," the importer said. The campaign is by Droga5, which won the account late last year. No TV ads are planned. Outdoor, print, digital and radio ads will run in several markets including Boston, New York and Chicago, where the brand overindexes.

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CORRECTION: Based on information provided to Ad Age by Heineken USA, Ad Age incorrectly reported that a new Heineken ad starring James Bond will be directed by Sam Mendes, director of the forthcoming Bond movie, "Skyfall." The spot will be directed by Fredrik Bond, with Mr. Mendes serving as creative consultant.

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