A game changer: How Heineken reinvented its Champions League communications

IPA Effectiveness Awards Case Study 2018

Despite good awareness and brand fit of its UEFA Champions League (UCL) sponsorship, Heineken’s sales growth was shrinking and penetration had stalled. Soccer fans were more likely to drink the lager when they watched matches socially than if they viewed by themselves. Featuring José Mourinho as spokesman, a new international strategy for Champions League markets motivated fans to watch with others and drink Heineken using high-impact TV and online video. Personalised reminders and content provided further inducement. Following the brand’s activity, there was a 20% drop in games watched alone. Year-on-year volume growth in UCL markets grew to 13.7%, compared to declines in non-participating countries. Global brand penetration increased by 5%.

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The 2016/17 season was certainly a benchmark year for Heineken and our sponsorship with UEFA Champions League. Our ambition was to become the new standard for creativity and effectiveness in a mobile first world. Early on we challenged our agencies to help us deliver experiences which would not only bring forward the Heineken POV but more importantly be relevant and enjoyable for our consumer. Creating a narrative that consistently drives enjoyment for our consumer and for UCL fans around the world was no easy task. It meant pivoting from targeting which previously leveraged rich audience insights to targeting which was much more contextually driven which move fans from one relatable moment to the next. We even restructured our communications framework from an ecosystem which was integrated with distinct layers to one which was more responsive, always-on, real-time, and deeply data driven. At the end of the day, a winning strategy is nothing without winning results. We believe the volume sales growth, increase in penetration and revenue are all proof of this and to this day continue to use these insights to drive effectiveness strategies across all our platforms and sponsorship's. It’s because of this value to the the brand that we continue to drive this into the culture of everything we do.

Anuraag trikha, Communication Director, Brand Global Commerce

Winners 2018

Silver Winner

Best International (The Tim Broadbent Prize)

Best Multi-Market


A game changer: How Heineken reinvented its Champions League communications






Publicis Italy

Principal Authors

  • Ed Booty - Publicis Singapore
  • James Moore - Publicis Italy
  • Kate Hinz - Starcom

Contributing Authors

  • Derek Muller - Publicis Italy
  • Tommy Cottam - Publicis Italy
  • Sol Ghafoor - Publicis London
  • Bela Ziemann - Publicis Italy
  • Stuart Williams - Publicis London
  • Carolin Wagner - Starcom

Credited Companies

  • Gianluca DiTondo, Senior Director Global Heineken Brand, Heineken International B.V. - 0
  • Els Dijkhuizen, Heineken Brand Communication Manager, Heineken International B.V. - 0
  • Jessica Setiawan, Heineken Brand Digital Media Manager, Heineken International B.V. - 0
  • Paul Lunn, Business Analyst, Heineken International B.V. - 0
  • Eva Spek, Intern Global Commerce Business Control, Heineken International B.V. - 0
  • Marion Hoek-Koudenburg, CMI Manager, Heineken International B.V. - 0
  • Poke London - Creative
  • Starcom - Media Agency

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