Heineken USA embraces a challenger brand mentality

Geoffrey Precourt

Beer could legitimately be called the ultimate social drink in the offline world. And for Heineken USA, the brewer, the online insights gleaned from social media are also now informing its TV spots, and providing critical differentiation in a highly cluttered sector.

“Everything in the beer category is the same,” said Lesya Lysyj, the firm’s chief marketing officer. “The advertising is all the same. The category norms are very similar. It’s a 30-second spot. It’s a linear storyline, with some comedy to it. But it’s guys with guys. Guys with girls. Guys at a bar. Guys with a dog. And what it’s doing is generally playing back to the guy himself. It’s a typical category convention that everybody is falling into.”

And this means, she added, that for Heineken to make its mark, “We have to do something different. We have to zig where the category is zagging.”