Heineken recently gave a master class in how companies can join the conversation on both sides of a divided population — and the company did it just weeks after Pepsi fell on its face with a Kendall Jenner commercial heavy on maligned appropriation.
In a video called “Worlds Apart,” Heineken brought together people with opposing opinions and gave them a space to speak face to face. A climate change denier spoke with an environmentalist, a feminist with an anti feminist, and a person against transgender rights with someone who is transgender.
The commercial is based in post-Brexit Britain, but the social atmosphere there is not so different from post-Trump America. Heineken is trying to show that we can all get along (well, those of us over 21) if we just chilled out and had a beer together. It’s worlds apart, to borrow the commercial’s title, from Pepsi’s shot at capitalizing on division. (Fast Company goes so far as to say it’s the “antidote”.)
By the end of the video, after each separate group has built a bar together and shared a drink, the anti feminist with the shaved head and suit raises a toast to the black woman he spoke with and says “smash the patriarchy!” The environmentalist takes a drink with the climate denier and says that if people want to talk about their point of view, then “the productive thing to do is to sit down and have a beer.”
Heineken is the woke bae to the sleeping tone-deaf monster that is Pepsi. Perhaps Pepsi should look to the company who produced the Heineken ad, Agency Publicis London, for a retry. Or not. Sometimes silence is alright when you don’t know how to relate with the people you want to appeal to.
There was a time when major corporations shied away from politics and social movements. It was too dangerous, business wise, for a company to align itself on one side of a deep division. When companies did join the conversation, it was in a carefully done way that avoided appropriation and didn’t make light of an issue. Clearly that isn’t the case anymore.
Guess everyone’s still trying to figure out how to live in a world where a viral video can go from published, to hated, to scrubbed from the internet in a matter of hours. Heineken appears to be on the right track, though.