Heineken Plays Matchmaker for Valentine's Day

Brewer Brings Social-Media Twist to 'The Date'

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Heineken made a big impression when its "Open Your World" campaign, via Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam, burst on the scene last year. Two widely-praised spots, "The Entrance," and its follow-up, "The Date" introduced a new kind of protagonist: a cool, super-confident, sexy guy who knows how to party and makes every occasion go out with a bang.

With its extension of the campaign into social media, "The Serenade," it's hoping to achieve the same level of pizazz. Its Facebook app, "The Serenade," which went live yesterday ahead of Valentine's Day, lets people ask each other out on dates via a personalized serenade sung by Paul "Kiss" Kissaun, the very same Bollywood-style artist and band that appeared in "The Date."

The lyrics of the songs will be based on questions they've answered (for example, where they intend to take their date and why they think the person in question should go out with them.) Once shared via their Facebook wall, they wait to see if they receive a yes or no from their date. The 640 different serenades will be available in 20 languages.

But this is not just an app, it's also an event. On Feb. 9, Heineken will host an eight-hour YouTube event, "Serenade Live," during which hopeful daters will get the chance to create live online serenades for their beloveds. Heineken will choose Facebook and Twitter followers (and their loved ones) to have their serenade written and performed online, with an audience tuning in to watch their reaction (as well as interacting with the Serenade team) via Heineken Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

While many brands try to get into bed with Valentine's Day, for a beer brand, it's something of a different tack, combining the traditional humor typical of beer ads with a romantic element previously not included in marketing aimed at "guys." But while Valentine's might have looked too girly in the past; for Heineken, extending "The Date" into social media fleshes out the strategy introduced in the "Open Your World" campaign.

"We wanted people to relate a bit more to the protagonists in the films and to give them a tool to have a night out as fun as those nights," said Mark Bernath, exec creative director at Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam who conceived "The Serenade" alongside fellow Exec Creative Director Eric Quennoy, plus the creative team of Philip Brink and Hugo van Woerden, who worked on "The Entrance" interactive films as art director and copywriter respectively. (The team, who also worked on the behind-the-scenes film will oversee all content in The Serenade right through to the live event. Perfect Fools worked with W&K to develop the app).

Mr. Bernath describes "The Serenade" as a "demonstration of the point of view of the brand," aimed, he said, at "young men wanting to be men of the world, not amateurs."

"The idea of 'The Serenade' is to kickstart a night for you to remember, one in which you get out of your comfort zone," he said. "It's about making an incredible impression on your first date. On this date, you actually are the star."

Instead of taking place on Valentine's Day itself, the launch and the live event were deliberately timed a little before the 14th, so that users will (hopefully) have a date by Valentine's night. The live event is aimed at generating even more buzz around the app. "Social media usually allows for a delayed reaction, so the idea of the live event is to introduce it with drama and tension," said Mr. Quennoy. W&K also plans to tie Serenade Live in with other live, local events, teasers for which will be released in the run-up.

Meanwhile the strategy itself will have significance beyond a one-off Valentine's event. Heineken's use of Facebook to activate the campaign comes as the company is gearing up for a bigger push into social media. It recently signed a deal with Facebook in which it will have access to consulting and new products. Watch out for more Facebook-based activity to come.

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