How Heineken Created 2 Fake Events


Photo by Jinen Shah on Unsplash

Consumers now expect to be able to get things, talk to someone, and do what they want at any time. That’s led to a divide. Some companies and products provide such a perfect, seamless experience that it has raised the bar. In fact, it’s so easy and seamless that we kind of forget to be impressed. But what they’re doing is making the ones that don’t deliver that kind of great experience all the more obvious.” — Susan Weinschenk, Chief Behavioral Scientist and CEO, The Team W

What would you do if your girlfriend or boss would ask you to go to a classical concert instead of watching the football game? What would you do if, during your job interview, the boss is about to faint but is continuing to interview you?

How would you respond and react to these situations?

Sounds crazy and impossible for these kinds of events to happen, but they did. Heineken organized these events and made history!

Heineken is a Dutch brewing company, founded in 1864 by Gerard Adriaan Heineken in Amsterdam. Heineken beer is popular and drunk by people from every corner of the world. Heineken is the second brewer in the world and the number one in Europe.

Photo by Smit Patel on Unsplash

1. Fake Classical Concert

On October 21, 2010, was the UEFA Champions League game between Real Madrid and Ac Milan. Fans were waiting for this game all year.

Heineken decided to target their customers in a unique and never seen before way. They organized a fake poetry and classical music event at the same time as the match.

Heineken had 200 accomplices that succeeded in convincing over 1000 AC Milan fans to go to a classical music event instead of watching the match. The accomplices were 100 girlfriends, 50 professors, and many journalists and bosses.

The victims that went to the fake event were secretly filmed and it was live broadcasted on Sky Sport. 1.5 million people saw their reactions on live TV. After 15 minutes since the concert has started, on the screen above the stage appeared the messages:

“Hard to say no to your boss, isn’t it? To your girlfriend? And to the match? How could you even have thought of missing the match? Are you still with us? Real Madrid and Milan are now on the pitch. Let’s enjoy the match together.”

After this message appeared the Heineken logo with the slogan “Heineken made to entertain”.

Then the match was broadcast on the screen, while all the victims were screaming, laughing, and applauding of happiness.


Heineken caught 1136 victims in the trap.

Over 1,5 million people watched them live on SKY Sport.

10 million people saw them on the news the next day.

Heineken had over 5 million unique visitors on the site of the event in the two weeks after the event.

Many fans appreciated the event on blogs, forums, and social networks.

Photo by Stella de Smit on Unsplash

 “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.” — Thomas J. Watson, 2nd President of IBM, political figure, and philanthropist

2. The candidate- Fake Job Interview

Job interviews are the same and boring most of the time. The questions are basic, and the candidate has the right answers ready.

In 2013, Heineken organized an interview where over 1700 people applied. The position involved following the UEFA Champions League Trophy as it tours the world, having the opportunity to meet football heroes. The interview took place in Amsterdam, and it was an interview where the candidates could not prepare.

The interview was organized in 3 stages.

  1. The Kick-off- the boss led the candidate while holding hands into the meeting room
  2. Medical assistance- the boss starts feeling sick, is about to faint, and falls from the chair. While this is happening, the boss starts asking the candidates questions, continuing to interview them for the job.
  3. The exit- during the interview, the fire alarm starts, and they evacuate the building. Outside are the firefighters that need somebody to help them hold the life net to rescue an employee from the roof.

Based on these stages, were elected the best 3 candidates by the Heineken marketing community on an internal portal. The candidate that got the most votes was bought to the Juventus Stadium for the final stage. The match was between Juventus and Chelsea.

Before the game started, on the screen were videos with his interview. On the screen, it was showing the message about him getting the job, “Guy Luchting You Got The Job”. Everybody was applauding and screaming! Guy is working at Heineken!

Photo by Luis Desiro on Unsplash

Final Thoughts

This is a brilliant marketing strategy, right? Both of the events were amazing, are still talked about, and taken as examples in the marketing industry. Heineken doesn’t have celebrities on their ads, having just normal people enjoying their beer. Heineken does a lot of crazy events that have a huge impact on customers. Heineken has a different approach, and it’s the best one! Of course, this approach is risky, but most of the time you have to take risks to win.

What do you think about these events? Do you think that other companies should adopt this marketing strategy? I think they should.

Customer experience professionals love to think about their customer journey maps, but these can be very rigid. How many consumers follow the same exact path to get to their outcome? Very few. I believe consumer experiences need to be far more dynamic than they are today — not just personalized, which we’ve been talking about for a few years. After all, companies can leverage data about customers in the moment — what they did in the last 24 minutes or hours, not in the last 24 days.” — Tom Puthiyamadam, Digital Service and BXT Leader, PwC 



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