How to create a Racist Ad ft. Heineken & Chance the Rapper
How marketers don’t realize so notoriously obvious things never fails to bewilder me.
If you, for some reason, are asked by your CMO to create a racist advert, you should probably follow the footsteps of the greats at Heineken.
In my social media marketing assignment, I was asked by my professor to write a research article on failed marketing campaigns. I am no fan of failed marketing campaigns, but a man got-to-do what he got-to-do.
Being a university student who’s a big fan of soccer and beer, I was aware of the “Dutch disaster” (as I like to call it) that stemmed from the genius brains of Heineken’s in-house marketers.
Lighter is Better. Really?
They had a beautiful tagline “Sometimes, Lighter is Better”, which promoted two things:
- Low calorie
- 5% alcohol level suggesting that it’s “lighter” than other hard alcohol
They have had this tagline for ages, and no one batted an eye (they should have) until, they stepped up their game and launched a commercial wherein their classic Heineken lager passed 3 black people before magically reaching the hands of a white woman.
Have a look:
I mean, how could they?
Every budding marketer is taught that whenever you launch campaigns that caters to broad audiences, make sure that the message is culturally, religiously and racially appropriate and that the message should be direct.
A direct message implies that it should not be perceived in a manner that involves juxtaposition with other things, which in this case, the tagline can clearly be seen as a direct jibe at people of a darker complexion.
As an optimist, I would like to believe that Heineken’s intentions didn’t have any racist angle, but as a marketer, and as a human being; oh my.
How could they?
The Chance element
It’s only fair that I refer to it as “The Chance Element”. Optimists like me (and shame on us) might have ignored the obvious parallels that could be drawn to racism in this advertisement, but Chance The Rapper, who is an American rapper (in case you didn’t know) bought this controversial video to our attention (in 2018).
Here’s what he tweeted:
All hell break loose after this tweet.
Heineken quickly removed the campaign from all the social media channels and issued a public apology.
Here’s what a spokesperson commented (Source: indy100.com)
For decades, Heineken has developed diverse marketing that shows there’s more that unites us than divides us. While we feel the ad is referencing our Heineken Light beer — we missed the mark, are taking the feedback to heart and will use this to influence future campaigns.
Even after months of taking down the ad, the company struggled to regain the goodwill of the customers. According to Digimind, the negative sentiment around the brand was around 53%. A rise of 11 percentage points.
My writing reflects humor and sarcasm, but on a serious note, this is neither sarcastic, nor funny.
As marketers, we are burdened with great power; and with great power comes great (I hope the spidey in you starts stinging).
There’s no place for racism in business and in this world. Always be wary of this when launching campaigns. Ignorance is no excuse.
Inclusive Marketing. This is what we all stand for.