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Heineken plays (and fails) at Departure Roulette

Heineken has released a new series of television spots targeting the adventurous. However, there is one television spot, although creative, that that falls outside of their brand. Their Departure Roulette ad shows an electronic board being set up in an airport terminal, with a large red button beside a row of letters that will continue to flip until your destination city is chosen. Above this, the text “Drop everything. Push button. Commit to [City Name]:” is displayed.

But here’s the problem, how does this campaign align with the rest of Heineken’s brand, and what impact did it have on the viewer? Answering the former question, I don’t think Heineken has ever defined a brand bubble for itself to begin with. This campaign seems like it was designed to associate  the product with the element of surprise. The only problem is, from my awareness, not many Heineken campaigns from the past have tried to do this. Why they may be trying to do this now is another article for another day.

Back to the Departure Roulette TV spot. Before you read on, take the time to quickly watch this spot above.

Did you watch it?

Okay, while you were watching, did you get those feel-good goosebumps at any time?

You didn’t. I think Heineken’s goal was to make this into a feel-good television spot for a larger scale campaign. The problem is, that this ad makes the viewer feel awkward, confused, and somewhat bored. You can even see the awkwardness prevail among the travelers chosen to participate. Here are some top “awkward” picks from the spot:

2:31 - A man who’s willing to push the button gets pulled away by his wife yelling “Let’s go home!”

1:45 - That cringe! Just look at the cringe!

I asked fellow Sprott School of Business Student, Trevor Smith (@MisterAwesome92) what he thought about the spot. He’s in a better position to comment than me, as his current internship is at a Heineken competitor. Trevor’s thoughts:

“…it seems as though they are positioning their marketing in a way that reaches out to the travelers and globe trotters within their consumer base, which makes sense because of where they are focused in the world.”
Trevor Smith

I agree that the campaign is targeted at bringing excitement into reality on an international scale. But if this one spot was supposed to capture all of that excitement in one take, it failed miserably. On the other hand, if the campaign is “to be continued”, and if they create a mini-series following the travellers who decided to take the mystery vacation, then they might, just might, have a chance at rescuing this campaign and building their brand.

But they probably won’t.

Follow @michaelcacho on Twitter.

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Copyright 2013 Michael Cacho / Posted media is the respective Copyright of the brands referred to herein.