February 7, 2013

Heineken Valentine’s Day “Serenade” Campaign Shows How Social Can Scale

Are you looking for creative ideas to promote your business this Valentine’s Day? You might find inspiration in the Serenade social media campaign that Heineken ran for Valentine’s Day last year.  It showed just how far social can scale, given the right timing, elements, tone, and target market alignment. Focused primarily on young men, Heineken launched a highly interactive Facebook app just before Valentine’s Day. The app allowed people to send personalized songs to potential dates, including why they should say yes and what the date would be. Through the app, the participant chose his desired date from his list of Facebook friends and posted his customized serenade on her Wall.  She could then respond “Yes” or “No” on his Wall in a similar 10-second serenade back.

The screenshot below shows over 5 million Likes of the Facebook app, a sure sign that Heineken found its social media sweet spot with this campaign.

Co-developed with advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam, the concept took quite a few creative minds and detailed planning to get off the ground. Here is a snapshot of the campaign’s three main strategies:

Crossplatform Cocktail:

Heineken hosted “Serenade Live” a week before Valentine’s Day, an 8-hour worldwide live online YouTube event. Heineken chose Facebook and Twitter followers to perform their serenade online, while the audience and potential dates tuned in to share their reactions. Here’s the genius—the drama is heightened by launching a live event on YouTube, coupled with the Facebook app. Add the Twitter handle @Heineken and hashtags #Serenade, #SerenadeLive to the mix, and you’ve created a social media triple threat. Going global when you can—the Serenade videos were produced in over 20 languages—made this a truly universal launch. The Serenade App was also backed by a television campaign in the U.S.

Emotional Resonance:

Asking someone to go on a date can be so…well…nerve-racking. The Serenade campaign turned an awkward process into a fun and interactive entertainment platform, and showed that Heineken was connecting with its male consumers on an emotional level. In press statements, Mark Bernath, executive creative director at W&K, describes “The Serenade” as Heineken’s point of view, aimed at “young men wanting to be men of the world, not amateurs. The idea of ‘The Serenade’ is to kick-start a night to remember. It’s about making an incredible impression on your first date, where you actually are the star.”

Built on Prior Successes:

Heineken had already launched a successful global campaign, “Open Your World,” which, according to its press statement on the campaign, “celebrates and encourages aspirational behaviors among adult consumers. This followed the recent launch of The Date, which celebrated a man taking a woman on a legendary date, set to the catchy 1960’s Bollywood track, ‘Jaan Pehechaan Ho,’ by Mohammed Rafi. Through the app, the same band that appeared in the ad will create songs for Heineken fans.”

An interesting article in Ad Age, Heineken Plays Matchmaker for Valentine’s Day, offers the rather fascinating theory that “The Date” introduces “a new kind of protagonist: a cool, super-confident, sexy guy who knows how to party and makes every occasion go out with a bang.” It also suggests the campaign is a tactical move, setting the stage for the premium beer company’s future integration with Facebook.

Whatever the future holds, the Serenade Campaign is sure to be a benchmark for future social campaigns going forward. After all, who can resist being the star of their own show?

Did you see the Heineken Serenade Campaign, and what did you think of it?

What other Valentine’s Day social media campaigns are your favorites?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

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About the Author
Kim Cooper

Kim Cooper is Sr. Marketing Manager at Rignite. She helps businesses get better results from their social media activity. She blogs about tips, best practices, and social media success stories.