Why Heineken emerged MARKETING EDGE Premium Lager Beer of the Decade

By Tunde Animasaun

Yes! The jury is out!! Heineken has emerged winner of MARKETING EDGE Outstanding Premium Lager Beer of the Decade. The brand did not achieve this feat on a platter. Neither was this height a happenstance. Rather, it is the years of cumulative strategic brand building initiatives aimed at creating a future for the premium lager brand with class, taste, quality and elegance.

Today, that future is assured for Heineken as it has become an icon and a legend. It is not only merited and deserved; it is a further attestation to the brand’s unique strong proposition, positioning and unrivalled consumer-centric innovations and creativity.

Besides, from its humble beginning as a 19th-century local beer, brewed in Amsterdam, Heineken has transformed into a global icon with 140 years’ experience in premium beer brewing. It is unarguably, the world’s leading premium lager consumed by 25 million people each day across 192 countries. It is available in formats and variations that cater to diverse consumer needs around the world. According to the 2020 Annual Report, 21.8mhl of Heineken premium lager was produced in the year under review.

Heineken’s journey to becoming a global brand icon took an irreversible turn when in 1954, Heineken launched a new label with a new logo, designed by Alfred ‘Freddy’ Heineken, the teenage son of the founder under whose direction as CEO, the Heineken name and brand became a global citizen. Heineken has been innovating in branding and marketing since then. It was the first beer advertisement on TV in the Netherlands, and the unparalleled roster of partnerships, including the world’s most recognizable sporting events, put the brand in front of hundreds of millions of eyes every year. Today, It is the world’s most valuable international premium beer brand and available in almost every country on the planet.

In Nigeria, the Heineken brand has benefited from the vast global footprint of the brand. Drawing on a level of brewing excellence, brand-building expertise and consumer trend forecasting that is unmatched in the country, Heineken’s series of brand campaigns and positioning strategies have wowed both the industry practitioners and the consuming public alike. ‘Dear brands, this is how it’s done! Heineken’s latest ad campaign is a huge hit’ was how Elizabeth Osho, Head Strategist, SoMe Solutions reacted to Heineken’s ‘chairman’ campaign.  She hash-tagged it #DopestAd on her Instagram handle. By adopting and owning the word ‘Chairman’, a popular word commonly used in Nigeria to refer to a superior, a rich person, a boss or someone who occupies a higher position or a person that is of a much higher social, political and economic status, the brand has successfully created their dominant status in the consumers’ subconscious mind.

Another brand positioning coup by Heineken was the draping of the wall of NET/NECOM Tower building, one of the most iconic buildings in Lagos. This was another ‘bull’s eye’ positioning strategy. The wall drape advertisement which could be seen from many locations in Lagos was quite imposing and actually helped to position Heineken as the number one and preferred beer brand in Nigeria.

In 2012, coinciding with the introduction of its new bottle into the Nigerian beer market, Heineken upped the ante with the introduction of the ‘First Class’ campaign. Add these to their sponsorship and live broadcast of the European Champions League football on TV, the league to which they are the official partner and enjoyed by over 4.2 billion people around the world, the activations at communal viewing centres, stadia, bars, hotels, and you’ll begin to appreciate the immense customer engagement capital they accrue to the brand.

Meanwhile, winning the MARKETING EDGE Outstanding Premium Lager Beer of the Decade is like an icing on the cake for the brand. Nigerian Breweries, the franchise holder of the Heineken brand in Nigeria and the managers of the brand are excited by the award. According to them, the award is recognition of the brand’s positioning strategies and positive feedback that shows the brand is making the desired impact in the consciousness of its various publics.


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