Don’t Drink and… Work?

Don't drink and... work?


As life in Britain inches toward normality, you might think the Covid-themed ads had run their course. But remote working is here to stay and clever marketers are still finding ways to use it in ads. Heineken’s latest commercial with Publicis is a sly comment on “Zoom fatigue” and the ways we relieve it.

The ad – presented initially in an ultra-naturalistic way – switches between various video calls, with a bunch of home workers guiltily hiding their mid-afternoon beers and glasses of wine. The music cue – Grieg’s Hall Of The Mountain King – nicely suggests that something a little bit naughty is going on.

Now, clearly, Heineken can’t endorse drinking at work, however sympathetic its audience might be to the idea. So more is going on here than initially meets the eye. And the end of the ad reveals what it is, with a guy confidently drinking Heineken 0.0, their alcohol-free beer, and the commercial is encouraging responsible working as well as responsible drinking.

No- and low-alcohol drinks are an increasing focus of drinks manufacturers, with a recent study by IWSR predicting over 30% growth in the sector over the next few years. In some European markets, no- and low- alcohol beers already have 10% market share, and brands like Heineken are working hard to shake off the residual idea that no-alcohol means no-taste.

So this ad is part of that normalisation process, as well as a way of empathising with tired home workers who need a break from – or during – the endless round of video calls. The music, and the callback to earlier slogans and campaigns, really helps set the tone and works as emotional and brand cues – though the ad suffers a little on Fluency by not having much brand visibility in its early stages.

It scored 4.1-Stars and 1.27 Spike – both good performances for a beer ad, as it’s a sector which has tended towards rather bland advertising in recent years. And it’s good value for money for the brand too. Compared to Heineken’s last Ad Of The Week appearance – a glamorous location shoot starring Daniel Craig – this low-alcohol ad is also most certainly low-budget.