May 03, 2009

Heineken Fluffs Its Moment Of Truth

Over the past number of months, I've been enjoying Heineken's skilful advertising around its sponsorship of European Rugby.

Walking in Dublin's Temple Bar on Friday, I was delighted to see this street-theatre tribute to its Greatness Lives On campaign (which features pivotal moments from previous cup games cast in bronze and put on a pedestal for posterity). This one celebrated the Moment of Truth at the upcoming Heineken Cup Final in Edinburgh.

But at the Munster-Leinster semi-final a day later, Heineken's sure-footed progress came to a juddering halt in the programme notes of its Managing Director in Ireland, David Forde.

Now Mr. Forde isn't alone in messing up this prime opportunity to speak to a captivated audience of rugby fans; the match programme is poorly designed and badly written and shows little improvement from the amateurish publications that used to be sold at the old Lansdowne Road venue at both soccer and rugby games thirty-odd years ago.

But Mr. Forde really should know better. After all, his brand is rightly celebrated for its original and playful advertising. Instead, his 'Welcome From Heineken' address features the hackneyed phrases of the dinner-dance host and stops just short of an announcement of a raffle at half-time.

He tells us that, "occasions don't come much bigger than the meeting of Munster and Leinster in this Heineken Cup semi-final" before going on to say that he "would like to thank the many organisations, as well as our own Heineken staff, who have worked tirelessly to ensure that everybody enjoys a great day out." His message had me turning quickly (without further ado!) from the programme to enjoy instead the pre-match warm-up of the two teams on the pitch.

What a missed opportunity! Heineken shrewdly invested in a competition which has become a real poster-boy for commercial sport and Mr. Forde prattles on like a proud parent at prize-giving. Why didn't he invite one of his sure-footed copywriters to script his address?

Like many others in the board-room (who insist on golf-outing style photographs in the Annual Report), Mr. Forde seems to believe that branding stops at the door of the marketing department. His address to rugby fans leaves Heineken flat-footed and undermines much of the great creative work with which his brand is associated.

Over to you: What other great branding efforts have you seen held up short of the try-line thanks to poor decision-taking by other members of the team?


hugh said...

Spot on. Beside the dreadful score line I couldn't believe how Heineken missed such a wonderful opportunity to produce a wonderfully memorable (and collectable) book from the day. In contrast the program from the final last year is class - still have a copy. Could it be that we won that one!!!

hugh said...

Spot on. Beside the dreadful score line I couldn't believe that the sponsor let such a wonderful opportunity slip pass them and produce such a disappointing program. In contrast to the final last year (by the way we won that one) the program is very impressive and worthy of the occasion.