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Industry View: This Heineken Ad Shows We Aren't So Different After All

Heineken’s groundbreaking ad demonstrates the power of video (and a beer or two) to bridge almost any impasse.

At a time when any mention of politics, gender issues, or the environment can cause a family gathering to erupt into a row, Heineken tried a bold experiment.

From All Walks of Life

In this long-form, cinematic ad, aptly titled “Worlds Apart: An Experiment,” the beermaker brought together three pairs of strangers from opposite sides of the political and social spectrum. The twist? They don’t know anything about each other until they’ve had a chance to build a friendly rapport, while physically building what will turn out to be an L-shaped bar.

Then, they’re hit with a shocking revelation: their newfound comrade holds views diametrically opposed to their own. The participants are given the opportunity to leave, or to sit and discuss their differences over a beer. In the end, they learn that while their views place them worlds apart, they’re more than capable of engaging civilly with each other (and the ice cold beer didn’t hurt). Cue warm and fuzzy feelings all around.

What’s Emotion Got to Do With It?

While wading into political waters is typically fodder for late night TV (as evidenced by this piece on the search for common ground featured on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon), Heineken’s more sophisticated effort illuminated what can happen when rhetoric is cast aside in favor of genuine conversation and engagement. Using a deft touch and the storytelling power of video, the film highlighted the meaning behind the Heineken brand — the ability to bring people together over a beer — in a subtle, thoughtful way, tapping into viewers’ emotions by focussing on the importance of people over political positions.

This approach is one we’re beginning to see more of as brands look to elevate their marketing strategies. Emotionally riveting advertising channeled toward the greater social good is now moving toward the forefront, and for good reason: studies have shown that for both TV and print ads, emotional reactions resonate far more with consumers than actual content does. In addition, the Advertising Research Foundation found that, out of a list of factors determining whether an ad will move the sales needle, emotions — in this case “likeability” — carried the most weight.

Devra Prywes, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Insights at Unruly, confirms the importance of tapping into emotions and drawing focus to issues beyond the product itself: “what we have found is that anything about a cause or social good is incredibly potent.”

This movement toward emotion-based advertising is more than a trend; it’s a necessary response to today’s fast-paced, 24/7 digital media cycle. Film presents the ideal opportunity for marketers to not only reach, but to make an emotional connection with their consumers — and ensure that that message breaks through the noise and resonates over time.

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