‘Music is a difficult beast’ admits Heineken as it launches global music-focused campaign

Heineken is launching a new global music strategy in a bid to cement itself within the live music scene. However, Heineken’s global brand communication director Anuraag Trikha admits that it faces a challenge as “people come to see the artist and not the brand”.

The new global strategy #LiveYourMusic, which was created in partnership with Publicis Worldwide, will be supported with a TV campaign, special bottle designs, new packaging, local digital activation and experiential activity. It will be rolled out across all its markets from summer onwards.

The TV ad sees numerous people loudly sing Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, before reaching a climax when all the singers come together in a Heineken sponsored music stadium. The new bottle designs and packaging are expected to fit in with the musical direction the brand is taking.

Anuraag Trikha, Heineken’s global brand communication director, told Marketing Week that it sponsors more than 1,000 music events globally as music remains an important gateway to reach millennials.

“Music has almost become the beat of how Heineken communicates and touches people around the world. It’s also a great recruitment tool. When you want to get to the 25-year-olds around the world, music is the first place they go to and it allows you to be distinctive and credible, which is why we’re there,” he explained.

He admitted, however, that music is a “very difficult beast for brands” as consumers can sometimes fail to associate a brand with a particular music event or artist.

“Music is a very difficult beast for brands and it’s challenging for brands to create salience. People go to see the artist and the brand gets hidden. The commercial side is important to us. If you don’t put a brand lens on it at all, it becomes just another promotion,” he added.

“It’s important to track behavioural change among consumers, and for them to be able to remember the role Heineken played within it.”

Anuraag Trikha, global brand communication director, Heineken

To battle this challenge, Heineken is looking at more experiential events to raise brand awareness among festival goers.

“We’ll be doing more experiential activity inside festivals. We are also looking at partnering with festival owners to produce musical experiences that touch all your senses and then use technology to enable that.”

An increased focus on tech

As part of the campaign, a new activation called the ‘Takeover’ will allow consumers at music events to ‘take over’ control of the music from the DJ. Through customised Heineken wristbands that can light up red or green and advanced camera technology, gig-goers can choose which song they want to hear next – the green or the red track. The chosen song will then automatically mix itself into the set.

Trikha said the brand’s focus on technology will be “an ongoing conversation”, and that it will be predominantly used as a tool to see whether the experience of music can be made more impactful.

He explained: “We’re experimenting with the idea of people wearing headsets that allow them to have a VR experience of music as they’re listening to it. These are all small experiments that are happening around the world that are built around the new music strategy. In the next few months, you will see much more of this and we will try and scale these technological experiences.”

READ MORE: Why authenticity is vital in brand and music tie-ups

Heineken is not the only beer brand to move deeper into music. In July last year, Corona looked to push its association with the beach through its global SunSets music festivals and events and a partnership with Spotify.

However, Trikha is not “worried” about competitors going down a similar route, as he believes Heineken’s unique offering will cut through.

He concluded: We’re not worried, but we’re always aware we have to stand out and cut through. I’m hoping with our point of view, of not just listening to music but living it and making music come to life, we’ll at least make a dent in how people perceive us in terms of our relationship to music.”