Heineken - Road to the Final

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Beer and football- a perfect combination to reach a male audience. Hence why Heineken is the global sponsor of the UEFA Champions League (UCL), the most prestigious club platform for international football stars and their clubs. Every year, this sponsorship platform drives awareness and preference for Heineken amongst UCL fans. But in 2013, Heineken wanted to evolve the communication of its UCL sponsorship. To deepen its relationship with UCL football fans by offering them something unique. Something that this audience would really enjoy and would therefore drive deeper engagement with the Heineken brand.

The answer was simple- focus on the areas of UCL that resonate most strongly with the male, football-loving audience. Focus on the intense level of competition and comradery that is inherent in football. And provide its male audience with an opportunity to get involved and feel that sense of competition, that comradery for themselves.


The audience for this activity are men 21- 35, intense football fans who are highly competitive. They never pass up an opportunity to challenge a mate and would never back down when challenged themselves. To them, watching UCL football is inspirational- the epitome of athleticism and competition.

EBuzzing needed to find a way to extend the UCL experience from the TV screens, into these men’s hands. To bring the sense of competition to them. The central video asset developed for the campaign- “The Final”- was developed specifically focus to inspire these men. The video showcased the epic lengths that a fan will go to in order to be able to watch the UCL Final. Although the video culminated with the man arriving at the final match, the focus of the video is on the worldwide journey this man is willing to undertake to achieve something that is so important to him, everything from fighting through the jungle, hoping on the back of a stranger’s motorcycle, or managing to entertain harsh borders guards. He will do anything for his passion of the game. This video was used as the hook. It also needed something else to drive action.

Heineken knew its male target is highly competitive, so how could it trigger that passion? ‘The Kick’ online social game was created. An updated version of pinball, ‘The Kick’ was created to be highly addictive for our target- an easy to play, quick game that integrated the Heineken brand, elements of UCL football and was inherently social. The game would promote players to test their skills and to then challenge their friends to do the same. A social scoreboards was created to allow them to compare their results against their friends’, further driving the sense of competition and promoting gameplays.


‘The Final’ video ran on broadcast media around the world through local media and sponsorship packages. The reach of this asset was going to be huge. Heineken needed to capitalise on this awareness to drive engagement with The Kick game. It started with securing a global media world first! Heineken was the first advertisers to use YouTube’s trueview video product. Due to the lack to competition for this product, it delivered cost-efficient views of The Final asset across seven countries, specifically target users who were most likely to engage with the content and drive them to our game.

Through the use of a global video partner, the brand merged the video asset directly with the game in the custom-built widget, capturing the audience who was inspired by the video to immediately challenge them to test their own skills, all without leaving their current online environment. To ensure everyone, anywhere could play this game, a truly state of the art cloud-based hosting solution was created. This solution meant that that game could be played in any environment through the widget and would allow them to handle up to six million concurrent players! It identified a users’ location and tailored the language of the game to create a custom experience. Social media icons prompted players to share their results with friends and challenge them to try to beat their scores, something they knew their mates couldn’t resist! A social scoreboards was created to allow comparing of results, further driving competition and gameplays.


Online views of The Final video delivered over 35 million views, exceeding the target by 26%. The insight was right - this audience can’t say no to a challenge! 76% of those who viewed the video online went on to play The Kick game, with over 6.7 million gameplays of The Kick, smashing the target by 573%! And of those gameplays, over five million were unique players. And they didn’t just play it once - they successfully triggered their competitiveness to play again and try to beat their score.

Average time spent with the game was just under four minutes. With over 500,000 social engagements, they were eager to share with their friends too. Heineken research tracking demonstrated a 4% increase in Heineken’s awareness of UCL versus the previous year. Heineken’s activity brought the passion and competitiveness of UCL football into the hands of the audience.

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