In Depth

Brewed, Not Stirred: Heineken Plans Major Integration With Bond Flick -- Also Plans to Ditch Short-Neck Bottles and Bring New Beer Up From Mexico

By E.J. Schultz
Advertising Age

Heineken USA will rely on James Bond to help push its flagship brand this year, while launching campaigns for Newcastle Brown Ale and Amstel Light, and introducing a Mexican brand, Indio, in the states. And in an unusual move, the importer will run subtitled Spanish-language TV ads for Tecate on English-language channels.

The Bond campaign will coincide with the fall release of "Skyfall," the latest installment in the long-running movie franchise. Bond, played by Daniel Craig, will star in a Heineken ad. The spot, which will run globally, is by brand agency-of-record Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam, and directed by Fredrik Bond. In the movie, Bond will swap his trademark martini for a sip of the brew -- at least in one scene. The integration, which will include Bond images on packaging, marks the largest activation in the brand's 15-year partnership with the 007 franchise, according to the brewer.

Bond "is a perfect fit for us," said Lesya Lysyj, chief marketing officer of U.S. importer Heineken USA, who outlined the 2012 advertising plans in an interview. He is the "epitome of the man of the world," referring to the name of the brand's global campaign.

Brand Heineken is the second-largest import in the U.S., trailing Corona, but it has struggled to grow in recent years. Shipments fell 2.9% in 2011, according to Beer Marketer's Insights, which tracks bar and store shipments. But sales are on the upswing, growing 3% at stores in the 52 weeks that ended Feb. 19, to $585 million, according to SymphonyIRI, which excludes Walmart and liquor stores.

Part of the strategy this year is to balance Heineken's image-heavy TV advertising with an outdoor, print and digital effort focused on the quality and tradition of Holland-brewed beer. "We haven't really talked about the beer itself. ... And when we talked to consumers we found out they don't actually really know a lot about us," Ms. Lysyj said. "The combination of the substance and style is going to be really powerful."

In 2013, Heineken will redesign its bottles and ditch the familiar short necks for long ones, Ms. Lysyj said. The brewer's global parent rolled out long necks everywhere but the U.S. last year, where Heineken USA said it kept the old ones because it wanted to differentiate the import from domestics, which tend to come in long necks. That's apparently no longer a concern. Heineken USA "tested [long necks] against a whole variety of consumer groups, and it tested really well," said spokeswoman Tara Carraro.