The Beertender, manufactured by Krups, is the focal point of the brewer's campaign, which begins with a spot set to air this week urging consumers to "Make your house a home (bar)." The Beertender spot will get most of Heineken's TV spending in June (when it's being positioned as a Father's Day gift) and August, according to Heineken USA Chief Marketing Officer Ken Kunze.
The spot shows an eclectic series of homes, trailers and garages transformed into busy bars by the coffeemaker-size device, which keeps Heineken's trademark DraughtKeg at pouring temperature while sitting on a countertop.
Given the economy, it remains unclear whether many consumers will be willing to fork over $300 for an appliance -- especially one that's compatible with only two brands, the Heineken Lager and Heineken Premium Light DraughtKeg packages.
Heineken, naturally, believes there's a market. "As a brand franchise, we believe there is enough loyalty" to get significant numbers of people to buy a Beertender, Mr. Kunze said. "But [having the only home-draught appliance in the industry] can also be a way to bring new people into the franchise."
Drinking at home
The Beertender began selling exclusively through Williams-Sonoma outlets in March, although they're now available through a range of retailers as well as on beertender.com.
Mr. Kunze said the innovation was driven by an industry-wide trend of consumption shifting away from bars and restaurants and into people's homes, a shift that has intensified as the economy has worsened in recent months.
Heineken isn't the only brewer counting on innovation to drive sales of late. Coors Brewing Co. has used a series of gimmicks -- labels that turn blue when the bottle gets cold, frost-lined cans, extra-cold tap handles -- to reinforce its "cold" positioning. Both brewers have generally outperformed their rivals in the past year.
The spot is the second for Heineken from its new agency, Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore. An earlier effort for Heineken Premium Light, dubbed "Share the Good," utilized a similar progressive approach, showing bottles of Heineken handed from continent to continent between an eclectic group of characters.
Jimm Lasser, an art director at Wieden who worked on the spots, said the shop is trying to position the widely distributed beer as a "movement." "When you drink a Heineken, you can think about the guy in Vietnam drinking one at the same time," he said.
The agency wanted to create a similar feeling around what it hopes will be a revival of the home bar. "We wanted to reclaim the home bar from the dusty basement," he said. "This is a beautiful feature."