Heineken gets behind the turntable

To connect with millennials in the noisy electronic dance music space, the beer brand is trying a spin at branded content.

In case you haven’t heard, the popularity of electronic dance music (EDM) is off the charts. So the challenge for beer brand Heineken, which has long been a sponsor of EDM events, is to make sure it stands out from its competitors in the saturated market.

Heineken faces tough competition in the space, with AB InBev’s Bud Light swooping in this year as title sponsor of the Digital Dreams Music Festival, an event Heineken had previously sponsored.

That’s part of the reason why this year Heineken Canada stepped up its national music program targeting people from legal drinking age to 29, creating co-branded experiences that Paul Rudge, senior brand manager for Heineken, says should make people reach for their phones to capture and share.

Working with Rooftop Agency, it has partnered with DJs, promoters and club owners in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver to put on a series of events called “The Green Room” that focuses on consumer engagement at the event and is promoted through integrated experiential and digital partnerships with the promoters and regional DJs.

And to further raise awareness of its involvement in this community, this year the brand partnered with DJ Mag Canada to produce a web series, “Inside the Green Room,” which features the DJs, promoters and owners the brand is working with.

“We needed to speak directly to the customer, and we needed this to come from the mouth of the community itself,” says David Videka, president of Rooftop Agency. The series, which lives on DJ Mag Canada’s site and YouTube page, includes interviews with eight DJs and a few promoters and club owners across the markets. The content is also being promoted via banner ads on Facebook.

“There is no secret that EDM as a whole is over-saturated at this moment, so how do you cut through the noise and stay relevant?” Videka says. “Our hope was by taking promoters and DJs that were at the entry level all the way up to the top, it would give the viewers an idea of what it takes. It’s more about the journey than the flash, the glamour.”

As part of the partnership with the DJs, Rooftop created 20-minute co-branded video loops, which boost the experience for the DJs. Many of the DJs have residency in the cities where they are based and are using the co-branded video loop as part of their performance.

The program will wrap up this November but, Videka notes, the brand and agency maintain relationships with the DJs year-round.

“You can’t go on and off with them, it’s unfair to the relationship and credibility would go out the window.”

“We are actually becoming part of the EDM community rather than a logo people can slap on things,” Rudge adds.

For the experiential, the brand did activations at 42 events this summer and into the fall, such as having a DJ photo booth and LED-clad/branded drummers and LED costumed dancers performing live alongside the DJs. In Montreal, the experience included a graffiti installation, while at various Toronto events this summer, a mobile dance club (inside a truck) was stationed outside of event venues, with DJ Shaun Frank performing live inside it.

“Whenever we are part of an experience we want consumers to come away and say Heineken enhanced that experience,” Rudge says.

The local events are being promoted via bus shelter, billboard and side-of-building OOH in downtown cores where the events are held. In addition, Heineken has partnered with Spotify as the music service launches in Canada.

The brand also works with One Advertising for creative and MEC for media.

Photo courtesy of Rooftop Agency