Heineken eyes 'Apple of beer brands' status

Heineken is reaching out to independent designers to develop marketing initiatives for its global Open Your World marketing strategy in a bid to become the “Apple of beer brands” and set itself apart rivals focussed on sport and music sponsorship.


The Dutch beer brand will work with designers over the next 12 months to crowdsource ideas for packaging to advertising as well as industrial design and digital campaigns.

Much of the activity will centre on Heineken’s Ideas Brewery, an “open innovation platform” launched earlier this year to encourage fans to share ideas and feedback.

Heineken is planning to use the hub to work with designers and technology companies to come up with environmentally friendly beer packaging later this year.

In the coming months, the brewer will also develop a series of crowd-sourced buildings under its Heineken Open Design Explorations initiative following the success of a nightclub it built with input from 19 designers in Milan this March.

Mark van Iterson, global head of design at Heineken, told Marketing Week that the brand views design as a differentiator in the global beer market.

He adds: “The beer market is becoming overcrowded with music, football and sport related marketing and we’re trying to leverage design almost as an activation platform to make the brand stand out. It’s design that makes products premium and that’s also for a large part true for Heineken.

“Design is the premiumness of this era. Brands like Apple, Audi and BMW have all demonstrated how design can elevate a premium positioning when its integrated closely with other aspects of a business. This is what we’re doing with the Heineken over the next few years. We want to be like Apple in the beer market”

Heineken sees the initiatives as the first phase of several efforts to position design alongside music and sport as the third pillar of its business strategy and claims that it will continue to invest in the discipline in the long-term.

The strategy is being developed in partnership with iris Worldwide and van Iterson says it marks a natural step for the brand, which has “always” had ties to design.

He adds: “We’re one of the very first brands in the FMCG category to use design in this way. When we talk about a design culture at Heineken we mean it broadest sense of the word from packaging to glasses, to logos but its also what we have on the pitch boarding of Champions League matches or how do we design our Heineken house during the Olympics in London.”

Readers' comments (5)

  • Whatever they do it will still be the lager my old man used to drink 20 years ago.

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  • Like the ambtion but technically they are just trying to be Stella, is there room in the market for both, not so sure!

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  • Heineken has the marketing ca$h to do what ever it wants, but in the end, it'll always be another lager in a sea of sameness. Support your local craft brewer and drink quality over quantity!

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  • Stating that they "want to be like Apple in the Beer market" tells me that Heineken either doesn't know their own brand, or they're afraid to venture into unchartered territory. What's at the core of Heineken? What does it stand for? Once they understand that, they need to stay true to it and keep it at the core of all they do. Be a leader. Stand for something unique and ownable and consumers will take note.

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  • Haven't Becks been doing something similar with it's green box project for years?

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