A cinematic eye for craft, a spontaneous approach to influencer marketing and a surprise marriage proposal made the new campaign for Heineken’s premium Alpine beer one to remember, Marcelo Amstalden Möller tells LBB’s Laura Swinton
When Heineken’s premium beer team were drawing out the latest campaign in their quest to take Edelweiss beer from the Alps to the rest of the world, the last thing they were expecting was that one of their cast would get down on one knee to propose. But 3,000 metres above sea level, at a fancy lunch high up in the mountains, surrounded by snow, ice and bemused onlookers, Malaysian influencer Hao Ren popped the question to his girlfriend.
For Marcelo Amstalden Möller, global brand & marketing director of Premium Beer at Heineken, it certainly was a first - and something that he never could have planned for in a million years. “I was so proud of him. We were all crying, everyone who was watching was crying - it was beautiful,” he says. It was a moment borne out of a very personable and human approach the Heineken team took to pulling together a new influencer-driven advertising campaign.
The campaign in question is ‘The Alpine Spirit’, which pulls together influencers from Edelweiss’s key strategic markets - Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, China and Chile - and immerses them in an Alpine wonderland. The campaign combines a lushly cinematic hero spot, as well as targeted local content - and while the influencers may have been rolling around in the freezing snow, it was a project that was surprisingly full of warmth.
From the off, Marcelo and his team were keen that this campaign would not be an identikit international influencers campaign, showing off cool and edgy creatives in their respective milieus. They wanted something that would stand out visually and emotionally, building the brand and giving the influencers something to really celebrate. They wanted to invite the influencers into the Edelweiss world and forge long-term relationships.
“We spent quite a time identifying the influencers and content creators we wanted to work with. And then when we found them, there was a very good click between them and us and the brands. On some we even had a year or two-year contract,” explains Marcelo. “It's not just casting for a shooting. It's a partnership with people from these markets that we really admire and they like us so it was a very good match. That makes it a very special thing because we are building a community of people that are creative, that are to build things around our brand and it makes me very happy.”
And the key to building that community was investing time in allowing the relationships to form. The influencers were invited to the Alps for a week, to take part in a series of fun activities, but for the first two days or so, they didn’t even shoot anything. That’s why, explains Marcelo, there’s a natural ease and genuine happiness and excitement in the final executions that really connect emotionally.
The second half of the equation was crafting the Edelweiss brand world in what was a fairly spontaneous shoot. The key here was to elevate the brand assets - the crisp blue and yellow colour palette in particular - and embrace a very modern and European cinematic aesthetic. Heineken partnered with Hi!Poly, a French creative studio with the filmmaking chops to create the sophisticated look that would be distinctly French while appealing to a largely Asian audience.
Similarly, the team went to town on the styling, bringing in elements of couture and French vintage fashion.
“We are very into details. We also like fashion, we like music, we like pop culture overall and we keep an eye on what's going on. So the colours of the brand are something we've been using, even in the ‘Fly’ campaign. This time, because we were partnering with Hi!Poly and they are used to the French films, I said ‘guys about you have the most beautiful wardrobe ever! French couture style let's find what we can do and let's play with the colour code’,” recalls Marcelo. There were tailor-made outfits for the content creators and the team went hunting for vintage accessories in Paris.
The carefully considered details and art direction are a crucial part of Edelweiss’ international strategy. The beer has been borne of a contemporary twist on a 375-year-old Alpine brewing tradition - but there was no room for traditional cliches like cuckoo clocks and lederhosen, dark varnished wood and cowbells. They hold little relevance and resonance for the Asian and Chilean audience the brand is trying to reach and the team wants to craft a brand aesthetic that is suitably premium.
“Some people have a very strong opinion about the Alps; it’s like lederhosen and cuckoo clocks and so on. That's not what we want to do. That's not our Alps. It’s much more playful and modern,’ says Marcelo.
It certainly set out Edelweiss’s stall as a non-typical beer and made a huge contribution to building the brand’s foundations in new markets. “I think the first reaction is more like: what's going on here? There's a bit of a shock because this is not a typical beer ad but then, after they see it, they are so excited that they want to see it again. It has been very helpful for the brand. I think he's helped a lot to create brand awareness for new consumers and to people say ‘Oh, this is a very different brand. They don't do party people drinking and toasting in a bar.’”
And from Marcelo’s perspective, this new campaign translates that very deliberate brand aesthetic into a more collaborative space. During the production of ‘Alpine Spirit’, the influencers were supplied with all sorts of footage of them enjoying activities from paragliding and riding snowmobiles, which they could use, if they chose, in the creation of their own content. Many of the creators also shot their own stuff too - including, yes, there was the surprise marriage proposal. During the two weeks of production and for weeks after, the team saw some of the highest social media engagement the Heineken company has ever seen.
As a marketer, Marcelo reckons this project has been a real eye-opener and a lesson that crafted, precise brand-building and spontaneous collaboration do not need to be mutually exclusive.
“I learned a lot about being open to letting other people interpret your brand values and creating them. Because this is something marketeers are always a bit afraid of. Like, ‘Oh you're touching my brand. What are you going to do with my brand’. But I think in premium brands, if you partner with the right people, the magic can happen.”