Committed to a dry January? It’s that time of the year again when thoughts turn to a healthier lifestyle and we all, supposedly, spend January reflecting on the overindulgences of the Christmas and New Year festivities. But what if we could make moderation cool all year long, removing the necessity for a month of abstinence? What if we could bring all our insight, marketing, and creative minds to bear on these complex social issues and achieve the ambition of behavioural change?
Enjoy Heineken Responsibly is our global umbrella for all Heineken responsibility communications. We want our brand to live up to its global leadership position and be the frontrunner in encouraging responsible beer consumption. It’s a long-term strategy that has already seen significant investment and a creative process worthy of our best beer campaigns, and our ongoing pledge to spend at least 10% of our marketing budget on responsible consumption campaigns.
In 2012 we encouraged young adults to Enjoy the Sunrise, by moderating their consumption over the night and staying fresh enough to see an amazing dawn. In 2014 we collaborated with global DJ Armin van Buuren on Dance More, Drink Slow. So what is next in this journey?
Over the past few years there’s been a shift in attitudes towards responsible drinking, most noticeably among millennials. These young adults are having to strive harder than ever before in an increasingly competitive workplace; they’ve grown up in times of economic challenge and therefore work harder to manage their finances. Crucially. Millennials are also very concerned with managing their image and reputation online. Avoiding the shame of online photos depicting drunkenness or lack of self-control means, more often than not, they are moderating their alcohol intake. For many, it’s no longer ‘cool’ to be drunk.
With this insight in mind, we have a firm platform on which to build a lasting behavioural change with these young adults, who are already realising that sometimes less is more. If, as producers, we are able to use our brands in a different way to speak to consumers then there is a good chance we will gain traction - reinforcing positive social norms rather than preaching about the evils of drink.
And so, this month we launched our Moderate Drinkers Wanted campaign in the UK and across the world. It is the next phase in our mission to encourage moderate drinking, and to showcase the benefits of moderate consumption. In our new campaign film, set to the 1980s anthem I Need a Hero, we use another piece of insight - drunkenness is not attractive to the very people you are seeking to impress. I hope we’ve done this in a fun, engaging and memorable way. It’s certainly created a buzz already on that same social media.
As producers and retailers this can only be a good thing too, with consumers placing greater emphasis on premium quality experiences over quantity, and shopping throughout the year rather than removing themselves from the market when they’ve overdone it.
Embedding responsibility into businesses across the drinks industry must be a key ambition if we are to secure our long-term sustainability, and we are determined to make moderate consumption aspirational through the voice of the Heineken brand. Our ongoing pledge is to spend at least 10% of our marketing budget on Responsible Consumption campaigns.
To do this really well, we also need the support of those who regulate broadcast, print and digital media channels. Quite rightly, there are effective rules in place to ensure that alcohol marketing is not misdirected - but these can also be restrictive creatively when, for example, we want to show the negative effects of overconsumption. We need rules that make it attractive and relatively easy for brands to voice social responsibility messages in a powerful, engaging and sometimes hard-hitting way. Getting some of our global communications to air in the UK has been a challenge in the past, but there are encouraging signs this work is now being recognised positively by our regulators.
Of course, this is not the end of the conversation; and we will continue to build on the momentum that these campaigns have already created. Heineken is not alone in this ambition, and I think we will see significant marketing investment flowing in the same direction from other leading producers and retailers. Wouldn’t it be great if today’s young adults handed down this new attitude to alcohol to the next generation, and before long moderation is just what we do around here?
David Forde is managing director of Heineken UK