Heineken shows Pepsi the right way to make a politically charged ad
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Heineken shows Pepsi the right way to make a politically charged ad


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Can’t we all just get along?

That’s been the premise of dozens of commercials since the United States elected Donald Trump and the United Kingdom opted for a Brexit, but none have really sold the message like Heineken’s latest ad.

The spot, which was hailed as an antidote to Pepsi’s disaster of a political message earlier this month, features a social experiment involving three isolated pairs of ordinary UK citizens with opposing beliefs.

The participants are said to be unaware of the purpose of the test, and they have no knowledge of their political differences, which include views on feminism, transgender rights, and climate change.

They’re asked to perform a series of team-building exercises, like assembling a bar and asking one another scripted personal questions.

A loudspeaker then instructs them to watch a video of the other person confessing their political beliefs to a camera. With all the cards on the table, they must choose whether or not to stick around and drink a beer with the person now revealed to be an ideological opponent. All of them decide to stay.

The ad could’ve easily fallen flat anywhere along the way. The notion that people can reconcile their differences over a beverage has been a tired Madison Avenue trope for decades. Corporate-style team-building exercises are hardly a more convincing solution to ideological divisions than a can of Pepsi.

But it works because of its honest and human moments that seem to happen on their own accord. The commercial comes off as anything but forced.

The ad also doesn’t skirt naming actual hot-button issues. Many ads that push a similar message of unity do so in a generic way that seems trite, especially in the context of the gaping chasms splitting the American and UK electorate.   

Compare that to Pepsi’s tone-deaf ad, in which protesters called for “world peace” and mindlessly smiled in the face of riot cops.

Heineken’s ad was the work of agency Publicis London.

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April 28, 2017
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