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Broadening Reach With Sponsorships

A Chat with Hans Erik, Director of Global Heineken Sponsorships

— January 16, 2020 — Business
Heineken just launched its latest >James Bond commercial starring Daniel Craig ahead of the 25th James Bond film, 'No Time To Die' set to release in April. As of the last eight films, Heineken has been a partner to the franchise. The commercial is showcased in over 75 countries, spotlighting Daniel Craig's portrayal of the character and how he will always be James Bond in the eyes of fans at a global scope. The commercial is available online, across social media platforms, and on television.

I chatted with Hans Erik, Director of Global Heineken Sponsorships about his role, the Heineken Bond partnership, the importance of collaboration, and what direction he foresees sponsorships in the beverage industry heading towards in the near future.

Can you tell us a little bit about your role at Heineken?
I am the Head of Sponsorship of the company. I'm involved not in every little single sponsorship that we have around the globe, because that will be a little bit too much as we are presently in more than 192 countries. But when sponsorships are cross bordering, I get involved. So I am involved with the likes of the Champions League, the Formula One, the Rugby World Cup that we've just had in Japan, just to name a few. And we're busy of course now with launching James Bond but also with the old Heineken House in Tokyo or in France or in Latin America.

What is the Heineken Bond TVC campaign about? How did the project come into fruition?
Let’s start with a little bit of history. Heineken has been involved with the Bond franchise since 1997. ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ was our first little adventure with the Bond franchise. It has moved on since then by quite a bit. I think at Heineken, we try to always have a witty tone of voice. We are a premium brand known around the world. So what we do is we take a fresh perspective on life and on the James Bond franchise. We came up with the idea that once James Bond, always James Bond. Is he James Bond or is he Daniel Craig? The promotional that we've made is that people confuse Daniel Craig with James Bond and vice versa. And I think that's why there's quite some humor in the commercial where the mix up happens. And I hope that you have heard about the story about Dry January. Is Daniel Craig or is James Bond drinking 0.0 at the moment? It's all true. It's happening because in our commercial you'll see that Daniel Craig, he needs to work and he's taking a Heineken 0.0. I think it's a very playful way of looking from a fictional character to the to reality.

What makes the relationship between Heineken and the James Bond franchise so important?
Well first of all, I always give the easy answer -- it works for both parties. I'm a strong believer of that and if you look at the history of Heineken, the partnerships, they're all long standing partnerships. Take for example the Champions League. We started already back in 1994 then 95 with Amstel, moved that over to Heineken in 2006, 2005. If you look at rugby, we have been involved since the 95 Heineken Cup as a good example. So what you see happening, if your partner and both entities profit from it. I think for the Bond it's a classical example that we use, our marketing expertise and our knowledge and our reach around the world to promote the Bond franchise and the Bond franchise gives us quite some creativity to make cutthroat advertising and that works. And if you wish, I can take you into a lot of details of research. But in the last two movies, Heineken came out as the number one recognized poster together with the Aston Martin.

What are some of the other partnership platforms that the James Bond collaboration complements? How so?
Yeah, so again it's horses for courses because with the Formula One you're talking more to motor sports enthusiasts and with James Bond you're more talking to a film, and action film specifically, enthusiasts. Of course there is an overlap. But if you talk about Champions League, you talk about football fans primarily. So you see that in different countries there's different overlap. But the prime interest is that you can see that Heineken is an interesting brand. We're not just a mono brand. We have different interests and as such the James Bond partnership plays its role there as well.

How do these kinds of relationships create a unique experience for fans and consumers alike?
The short answer is that life will be, like Heineken, will be done with a fresh perspective. My point of view is that you always need to keep your campaigns fresh and innovative. And if you look at what Heineken has done, we started with using the Bond girls. We've even used John Cleese. We now use Daniel Craig. And we always come up with a different angle on how to use him. But if you look at the campaign from Skyfall to now, you can see that it's grown more mature. There's more humor in it, I think the story is better. Of course there's a lot of planning involved because as soon as the film starts shooting, they don't have a lot of time for other things. So knowing the franchise well, we know when to plan, how to plan and how to get things approved. That works for both parties.

What direction do you foresee partnerships heading towards for the beverage industry in the next 10 years? Are there new angles you’d hope for Heineken to explore more on?
Well, what you see happening around the world is that you need to have a presence in digital, and as such, you need to make sure that you are quick on your feet, that you can be part of a digital conversation. We have a team here in Amsterdam that works on the Bond franchise, on Formula One, on the Champions League and on the Euro so that we are part of the conversation that's going around on all kinds of social media apps. Because of course there's a good starting reason that you have something to say, but you need to make sure that you're part of that conversation going forward. I think that's a big change because you see that television, the audiences generally drop, but conversations online are still growing.
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