We like to see our Warc 100 rankings – our list of the 100 smartest campaigns of the past year, measured by their performance in effectiveness and strategy awards – as a way for marketing companies to benchmark their performance against their peers. But we also want the individual campaign case studies to provide some inspiration for making better work. And one of the most striking campaign stories on the list this year is 'Legendary Journey', by Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam for Heineken.
This work had huge scale: it was Heineken's first consistent global campaign across its 170 national markets. And, through a skillful combination of print and digital ads, it aimed to justify the beer brand's price premium to its target audience of younger men. When I spoke to him last month, Martin Weigel, Wieden's head of planning, gave the inside story of how this winning strategy was developed.
First, there was a "lengthly process" of collaboration with the client and agency-side planners and creatives, to analyse the brand. "We wouldn't have got to a good place without the open-mindedness to work in that way," Weigel added.
Second, the team worked out where in their audiences lives "the brand can legitimately play a role". The research revealed that Heineken was seen as an international brand, available all around the world. Looking into the origins of the Heineken business also revealed something of a buccaneering, outward-looking quality in the brand's beginnings. "It could have remained just a very good, local beer," Weigel said. "But in true Dutch, outward-looking sprit, they thought – let's get it out there! It refused to stay local."
The third and final part of the strategy to fall into place was to "look into the lives" of their customer. And, again, research came up with a crucial pointer. "No young man really wants to come across as a provincial amateur," Weigel said. "They want to feel like they know what's what. They've got worldly wisdom. Cosmopolitan."
And, from there, the campaign was born: ads presented the Heineken drinker as a man of the world, who knows his way around: above-the-line campaign creative depicted these men as heroes, or 'Legends'.
If you'd like to dig deeper, into the Warc 100, please read the full top 100 rankings, and learn more about our methodology.
Warc subscribers hoping to learn even more about each of the world's smartest campaigns can also read the full case studies where we have them. And, if you're on the rankings but don't have the case on Warc yet, please drop us a line.