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Branding Global Employee Narratives

Ben Clark Details Heineken's Go Places 2.0 Campaign

— January 31, 2019 — Business
In an effort to engage future talent, Heineken’s Go Places 2.0 looks internally, and focuses on the stories and experiences from 33 real employees with a reach that extends from the Netherlands to Vietnam. In a series of brief clips, these employees illustrate an instance in which they were challenged with turning adversity into opportunity, seamlessly highlighting the behavioral characteristics that Heineken is looking for in its future employees. In Go Places 2.0, each employee is a hero of their own narrative, as they embrace adventure, take risks, and refuse to take no for an answer. To learn more about the campaign, Trend Hunter had the opportunity to speak with Heineken’s Global Head of Talent Acquisition, Ben Clark.

Can you tell me about yourself and role with Heineken?

I sit within the corporate team at Heineken’s Global HQ in Amsterdam, working with our CHRO and global talent and leadership head. My main focus is on talent acquisition. Heineken is a big, decentralized company. So, really my role in a nutshell is to enable all of our different markets to be higher and better for the organization.

Can you explain Heineken’s Go Places 2.0 Campaign and how it differs from previous marketing efforts?

The main difference here between Go Places 1.0, which was launched in 2016, is that we’ve evolved this brand in three core areas. One is around building authenticity; that’s at the heart of the content that you’ll see. So we share authentic employee stories that showcase the opportunities and challenges the employees can have at Heineken. A good example of which would be Marcel Swain. He was South African-based when his story took place and he was looking to penetrate the saturated cider market in South Africa - completely new, a very difficult challenge. He thought very laterally and creatively, so he took off his suit and headed to the lab to develop different versions and flavors of cider. He then took this to market and created real success. So these authentic employee stories really showcase our employee’s behavioral traits. They really capture characteristics that work really well to make people within Heineken a success, and very closely aligned with our culture and values.

We also wanted this campaign to be more transcendent. At Heineken we’re all over the world, so it can be very difficult to gauge local talent. For example, it can be hard to hear about our talent in Asia, if we’re running a campaign that focuses on European content. So that was the approach we took with Go Places 2.0. Because these stories are authentic, they’re true, they’re real - so they come from all over the world. It’s more transcendent because these stories mean more to the people based in the locations in which the stories come from.

The third element is around longer term management of this employer brand. A lot of companies make the mistake of launching an employer brand into the market with a short period of time. The way we looked at it was, if we’re offering employment into various labor markets on an ongoing basis, then we need a brand that manages it, much like the Heineken beer that we sell to consumers. We took the same type of idea to help us manage this brand long term.

How would you describe Heineken's company culture? What does your ideal candidate look like?

It quite a pragmatic culture. It’s very much focused on individuals who can make things happen. To be successful is to realize opportunity and step into it. It’s about being brave and making things happen. That’s really the core elements that we value, and that create success within this organization, and that’s what we wanted to get across. So quite practical, but brave. These are the pioneering and entrepreneurial traits that we hold of particular importance.

In your opinion, why is culture so important for not just the employees, but for the consumer?

I know from an employee perspective, it’s about engagement. There’s a very vibrant talent market with lots of opportunity, certainly for those that bring quality experience. Qualified professionals have choices. So this focus on culture, and this articulation of culture is important so we can engage with the employees, to ensure everybody’s taking part in a winning company. When delivering these stories I didn’t know what we were going to get. We went internally on our social media platform to ask employees for their stories and adventures. It was almost overwhelming because we had hundreds of different replies that covered challenges, opportunities, learning from failures, or winning with success. All of this helps to build the culture in its own right. It's so valuable to the organization because the employees were transparent and open. They shared their learnings and the specificity of what works within the organization.

Externally, from my perspective, it’s about hiring. I think it's true that in organizations like Heineken that have such a rich history, corporate cultures do exist. So in this campaign, we’re clear about what our values are. You can see at the end of each of the films we’ve included a call to action that is provocative for the viewers, but what they're really there to do is showcase what behaviors and traits work within Heineken.

With Gen Z entering the workforce, do you anticipate any changes to company culture?

Work cultures have to be dynamic. Heineken’s culture has evolved over the past 150 years that we’ve been in existence. The entry of Gen Z is another factor within that. Not so long ago, Millennials were entering into the workplace and now they make up a majority of the workforce. I think we have to adapt in how we work, the tools that we use to work, and the processes -- it’s a slow evolution, but something that's very apparent and clear. This evolution could play a role as Go Places 2.0 grows throughout the years -- it's exciting to find out how and where.

What do you envision for this campaign in the next 5-10 years?

We’re focused on the here and now. We just launched Go Places 2.0 but we believe it’s very sustainable. It’s representative of the depth that we have within our employee population. The depth and possibilities of their stories and adventures is our focus. Personally, I’ve been delighted to hire an HR social media manager within our global team who can help to leverage different social media platforms to make sure the message gets to the right people. So in the short term over the next few years it’s about leveraging the depth of our employee population and their engaging stories. We’re building on that right now, and we’re sure that’s the right approach for Heineken globally.

Ultimately, what do you hope to get out of Go Places 2.0 in terms of future employees?

Heineken is an organization that has a strong brand-- we’re really well known. Because of this we don’t struggle for a volume of applications, so what were trying to do with Go Places 2.0 is ensure that we have the best quality and the right type of applications. This allows those with the right mindset and attitude to be the main focus. It’s not about volume, it’s about quality and having the right attitude.
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