Sign up to get full access to all our latest content, research, and network for everything customer contact.

What You Can Learn From Heineken’s Brilliantly Awkward Marketing Campaign

Add bookmark

Matt Wujciak

According to Deloitte’s July global index, 50% of consumers are concerned about their physical well-being. 59% are concerned about the health and safety of their families. And most consumer preference surveys you’ll find will rank health and safety as the number one priority customers require from brands. 

We’re in an awkward intermediary phase of the pandemic, where consumers require these priorities, yet desire a sense of normalcy in everyday life. As I take a look around, I (like millions of other consumers) can’t help but to laugh at the (oxymoronic) abnormal normal in this phase of the pandemic. Heinken captures that relatable feeling in their recent international marketing campaign capped off with their latest commercial

The ad shows customers wearing masks, awkwardly trying to social distance on the way to the bathroom and forgoing a high five in favor of elbow bumping, perfectly depicting consumers wanting health and safety from businesses, yet regular life and social inclusion. 

The call to action at the end is “socialize responsibly to keep bars open,” reminding people not to let safeguarding measures fall by the wayside after a few Heinekens. The beer industry undoubtedly depends heavily on social gatherings, events, bars, etc. which is why they’ve started the trending hashtag at the end of the commercial -#SocialiseResponsibility. It’s a universal feeling between millions of consumers and brands that almost anyone can get behind. Not specifically to keep bars open, but to be as responsible as possible in order to control the pandemic and help both business and consumers get back to regular life – in this case, Heineken. 

As seen in Adweek:

“Given the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in, we looked at how we can play a part in helping our consumers cope with the current situation, and also specifically on how we can support our on-trade partners to weather the extremely challenging business climate,” said Bram Westenbrink, Heineken senior director of global brand.

“We were inspired by real life experiences that everyone can relate to,” he said. “Whilst the new bar experience can be awkward and may take time getting used to for customers and bar staff, we wanted to celebrate their return and remind people that respecting the new rules is important. After all, there’s one thing better than the first night out: another night out.”

Nearly one-third are now less trustful of brands. In an era when consumer trust in brands, media, advertising, and political agendas and institutions become more skeptical, consumers will continue to become increasingly conscientious, highlighting the importance of empathetic and relatable marketing strategies that resonate with a target audience - ideally through a candid and transparent message. 

Read More: The Era Of The Conscientious Consumer: What Younger Generations Want From Your Brand

As large enterprises are under a spotlight, it’s the perfect opportunity to show your brand’s personality. 

As CX and marketing expert, Forbes Coaches Council member, and CEO of CX Journey, Annette Franz recently told me:

“..during times of uncertainty can really showcase who the people-centric brands are…Communications must be open, candid, transparent, timely, relevant, personalized, and consistent,” whether it’s marketing, customer service, or every day communication. 

This is a time when the world is vulnerable, where every person and organization is adapting to life with a live virus in their midst, where no one is operating from a best-in-class pandemic playbook to survive modern financial Darwinism. Brands, including marketers and customer experience departments must become the very people they’re trying to reach. This means that among innovation, compliance, marketing, and technology, humanity must become the greatest application. 

With over 150,000 global members, join the largest research hub for customer experience professionals by subscribing here. Through our complementary offerings, you’ll have access to the latest research, news, blogs, podcasts, webinars, whitepapers, events, training, and technology insights in customer experience. 

For media coverage, lead gen, and digital marketing inquiries, (or to say hi), contact me at, or connect with me on Linkedin at Matt Wujciak. And remember, identifying consumer behaviors before they become trends is how brands deliver compelling marketing and customer experiences.