Spending boost of 50% to back Heineken '97 ads

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Heineken USA will boost its marketing budget 55% next year, with a 50% larger media schedule, as the leading beer importer aims to increase its market share and solidify brand awareness among beer drinkers.

The campaign will be anchored by new print and broadcast ads from Wells Rich Greene BDDP, New York. The spots continue the theme of overhearing "real" conversations that focus on obtuse details of everyday life.


The new spots, which feature virtually no product, other than a cutaway of beer being poured into a glass, include discussions ranging from a personals ad date to visitors at a modern art exhibit pondering the meaning of a white radiator.

The company estimates it will spend more than $20 million on Heineken this year, putting '97 spending at well more than $30 million.

Last week, Heineken ran three 30-second spots featuring political consultants James Carville and Mary Matalin, arguing about the ramifications of a second Clinton administration.

Central to the '97 strategy will be a continuing effort to turn Heineken's red-star-on-green-background symbol into a ubiquitous icon reminiscent of Nike's swoosh or Levi's red tab, said VP-Marketing Steve Davis.

In all new spots, Heineken's red star will appear on random objects, such as towels, cocktail napkins and sunglasses.

A teaser for the campaign began last spring when Heineken's star appeared alone on outdoor boards and buildings without any specific brand or product reference.

Last year, Heineken spent $18.8 million to advertise its brands, including Amstel Light, according to Competitive Media Reporting.


For its new print spots, Mr. Davis said Heineken "borrowed a page from Absolut" with the red star integrated onto people, places and things adapted to a green background, such as a giant red star floating on the green Chicago River on St. Patrick's Day or red Christmas lights forming a star against the green electrical cord.

Mr. Davis said he wants to position Heineken as a trusted brand for 21-to-25-year-olds, as their interest in faddish specialty craft brews wanes.

"There were 1,500 new [beer] brands introduced this year," he said. "We all benefited from the news and excitement they brought. But we see consumers moving back to traditional brands."

Other marketing activities include a multiyear promotional deal with the U.S. Tennis Association to sponsor professional and amateur events.

Heineken also will extend its reach in music event marketing, with a series of concerts and possibly CDs, ranging from cutting edge rock to ethnic music.1

Copyright November 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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