Heineken raises a glass to female soccer fans in new campaign

Live Brief:

  • Heineken unveiled a new TV and digital campaign celebrating female soccer fans and addressing gender bias that affects both fans and players of the sport, according to a press release.
  • The campaign, “Cheers to All Fans, Men Included,” features female soccer fans across a variety of teams, ages and ethnicities enjoying the game in bars with a glass of Heineken, or even during intimate situations. In one scene during the 90-second spot, a woman leaves a date to watch the game in the bathroom on her phone. In another, a woman slow dances with her partner, watching the TV over his shoulder.
  • In addition to the ad, Heineken has launched a mobile webpage called Fresher Football to correct common questions asked about the UEFA Champions League, which tends to overlook data around female games and players. The brewery also is buying key AdWords around popular soccer questions, so female achievements are not overlooked.

Live Insight:

As part of the initiative, Heineken has partnered with former Arsenal player Alex Scott as the brand’s first female soccer ambassador. In one shorter ad, an announcer is celebrating the career of an Arsenal football player who led the team to victory. Viewers are made to believe it’s Thierry Henry, who is also featured in the ad. In the end, viewers discover the announcer is talking about Scott, to whom Henry raises a bottle of Heineken.

“Heineken is a brand for the fans and we’ve always been passionate about bringing people together to celebrate the things they love. Now, on our journey to improve inclusivity in football through our sponsorships, we’re committed to ensuring the sport is a safe and welcoming space for everyone,” Bram Westenbrink, global head of Heineken Brand, said in a press release.

Heineken’s investment and campaign follow a growing trend by beverage companies seeking to capitalize on the growing interest in women’s sports. Women have often been overlooked in sports advertising, with the focus mainly put on male consumers. Such sentiment has been famously mocked by “Saturday Night Live” in its Totino’s sketches. In 2021, Heineken became a partner of both the UEFA Women’s Champions League and the UEFA Women’s Euro tournament after the brand decided it would mirror support for both men and women soccer and motorsports.

To help correct gender bias evident in inaccurate statistics on the internet, Heineken wants to influence algorithms and online search with Fresher Football and convince search engines and fan sites to correct the information they provide users. Buying key AdWords around popular football questions will enable Heineken to intercept online search and providing correct answers.

Sephora similarly hacked search results last year to support its messaging. The retailer took steps to make the “Black Beauty Is Beauty” campaign more visible in search results, hoping to spur longer-term impact on algorithms.

Heineken’s efforts follow similar ones made by Diageo-owned Johnnie Walker. The single malt scotch mixed the first anthem produced for a female soccer team in the US Outside of soccer, Busch Light made a major investment into female NASCAR drivers earlier this year.

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