INTEGRATED: marketing challenge; How Heineken teamed with MTV to reach a younger market

By MEG CARTER,, Friday, 30 August 1996 12:00AM

Meg Carter examines the brewer’s bid to target 18- to 24-year-olds by linking up with MTV and a nightclub

Meg Carter examines the brewer’s bid to target 18- to 24-year-olds by

linking up with MTV and a nightclub

It is traditionally the toughest market to reach - consumers in their

late teens and early 20s who are more comfortable out clubbing than

passively absorbing conventional media at home. That’s why Heineken is

taking its message straight to the dance-crazed masses with its current

pan-European co-promotion with MTV Europe and the cult London nightclub,

the Ministry of Sound.

The aim is to raise awareness of the Heineken brand as part of its

repositioning drive to attract 18- to 24-year-olds. Although in the past

it has been associated with a range of musical genres through

sponsorship and co-promotion, the client has never been associated with

clubs and dance music.

The three-way partnership involves Heineken sponsoring MTV’s new dance

show, Club MTV, and eight live club events organised by the Ministry of

Sound involving top DJs from across Europe. Known as the Green Room

European Tour, each night will be a key feature of the Club MTV show,

which starts at the beginning of September.

Built into the deal is spot advertising on MTV and a portfolio of

grassroots activities taking place locally around each event, co-

ordinated by Heineken’s regional brand managers and MTV’s recently

recruited team of locally based marketing specialists.

The idea for the promotion arose from two rounds of conversations that

Heineken had: one with MTV about sponsorship for a new club show and the

other with the media dependant, Motive Communications, which proposed a

tie-up with the Ministry of Sound.

‘It was essential for us to get closer to consumers aged between 18 and

25,’ Heineken’s spokesperson, Margritha Meiger, says. ‘We recently

sponsored Hotel Babylon on ITV in the UK and are now evaluating whether

to continue. But we soon realised the need to do more on the ground to

support our association on screen.’

Hotel Babylon proved a useful experience, not least in the light of the

fracas following Heineken’s apparent desire to have more of its brand

visible on-screen. Under European law, advertisers are not allowed to

pay to place products within a TV show, although involvement in staging

the live event used as the basis for a TV show gives Heineken greater



aditionally, Heineken uses international media to top up the bulk of its

advertising expenditure which goes on national outlets. Motive’s head of

international business, Susannah Outfin, says: ‘The question was how to

maximise our use of international media - the answer was to bring it

down to ground level, with investment in local, live activities.’

Louise Angus, vice-president for advertising sales at MTV Networks

Europe, says: ‘As far as we are concerned, just sticking a logo on the

end of a show never gives sufficient added value. For maximum impact,

the association must be integrated across all marketing activities.’

Between them, the three developed a strategy based on a centrally co-

ordinated pan-European campaign with regional grassroots marketing back-

up implemented locally. The Ministry of Sound’s involvement contributed

the know-how and credibility: the club is an established dance brand

with recording label, event organisation and merchandise divisions.

A potential obstacle was individual territories not supporting the

campaign. To overcome this in advance, Motive pitched the idea not only

to Heineken headquarters in the Netherlands but also to representatives

from its marketing departments in each local region.

MTV’s recent regional expansion strategy enables it to offer substantial

local support. The network sees itself as three: northern, central and

southern European services - with certain regional opt-outs for

advertising available.

‘Local marketing representatives can take advantage of last-minute

opportunities,’ Angus says. It is the first time MTV has run a fully

integrated pan-European campaign on behalf of any of its clients that

takes advantage of this new structure. ‘Reinforcing the on-air

association on the ground was key,’ she adds. Marketing materials were

produced centrally, with posters and flyers standard in each market.

‘The key benefit was the ability to use international media as an

amplifier for on-the-ground activities,’ Outfin says. ‘The Ministry of

Sound was a credible partner, not least because of its brand development

through managing live events, a record company, merchandise and


The result is a blend of broadcast and event sponsorship - ‘effective

advertising-supplied programming, spot advertising and below-the-line

promotion,’ Outfin says. Reluctant to comment on the final budget,

investment was around two-thirds on above- and one-third on below-the-

line activity, although everything is closely integrated - a must to

make the package work.

Evaluation will prove tricky, Outfin concedes, as Heineken is already

highly saturated throughout Europe. However, Angus is implementing

qualitative and quantitative research to monitor changes in perceptions

of the brand among the target market.

Heineken’s prime aim has been to convey a consistent message in each

market. To ensure this, the partnership must be longer term, allowing

time for build and modifications to ensure pay-back, expected by year

three: ‘By then, we hope to be able to see a trend towards the qualities

the brand now aspires to,’ Angus says.

This article was first published on


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