Heineken eyes ‘Apple of beer brands’ status

Heineken is reaching out to independent designers to develop marketing initiatives for its global Open Your World marketing strategy in a bid to become the “Apple of beer brands” and set itself apart rivals focussed on sport and music sponsorship.


The Dutch beer brand will work with designers over the next 12 months to crowdsource ideas for packaging to advertising as well as industrial design and digital campaigns.

Much of the activity will centre on Heineken’s Ideas Brewery, an “open innovation platform” launched earlier this year to encourage fans to share ideas and feedback.

Heineken is planning to use the hub to work with designers and technology companies to come up with environmentally friendly beer packaging later this year.

In the coming months, the brewer will also develop a series of crowd-sourced buildings under its Heineken Open Design Explorations initiative following the success of a nightclub it built with input from 19 designers in Milan this March.

Mark van Iterson, global head of design at Heineken, told Marketing Week that the brand views design as a differentiator in the global beer market.

He adds: “The beer market is becoming overcrowded with music, football and sport related marketing and we’re trying to leverage design almost as an activation platform to make the brand stand out. It’s design that makes products premium and that’s also for a large part true for Heineken.

“Design is the premiumness of this era. Brands like Apple, Audi and BMW have all demonstrated how design can elevate a premium positioning when its integrated closely with other aspects of a business. This is what we’re doing with the Heineken over the next few years. We want to be like Apple in the beer market”

Heineken sees the initiatives as the first phase of several efforts to position design alongside music and sport as the third pillar of its business strategy and claims that it will continue to invest in the discipline in the long-term.

The strategy is being developed in partnership with iris Worldwide and van Iterson says it marks a natural step for the brand, which has “always” had ties to design.

He adds: “We’re one of the very first brands in the FMCG category to use design in this way. When we talk about a design culture at Heineken we mean it broadest sense of the word from packaging to glasses, to logos but its also what we have on the pitch boarding of Champions League matches or how do we design our Heineken house during the Olympics in London.”

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here