That vague progressivism is now a better way to sell beer than, say, hot chicks in bikinis, reflects shifting societal attitudes for which Heineken gets no credit
Brands are not your friends. I know Im not the first person to say this, but it bears repeating. They dont care about social justice. They exist solely to sell you crap you probably dont need. Still, this hasnt stopped the liberal internet from wetting its collective pants over a recent feel-good political ad for Heineken beer.
Created by Agency Publicis London, the ad features three pairs of British people, most likely actors, who hold disparate political views. A man who doesnt believe trans identity is legitimate is paired with a woman who favors transgender rights and is later revealed to be transgender herself.
A man who doesnt believe in climate change is paired with one who does. A man who describes himself as a member of the new right and an enemy of feminism but notably does not cop to being racist is paired with a young, black feminist.
After meeting in an empty warehouse, each pair performs a team-building exercise of sorts: building a bar. Blissfully unaware that their partners hold beliefs they think are insane (some correctly), they form a friendly bond. Once the bars are completed, their views are revealed to one another and theyre given the choice to GTFO or talk it out over a nice, frosty Heineken. And what do you know, they all stay.
The new right dude even says smash the patriarchy and the transphobe refers to the trans woman as a girl. So much progress in such a short time! The tagline: Heineken: open your world.
Liberal bloggers wasted no time in proclaiming this the antidote to that Pepsi Kendall Jenner ad. Heinekens new ad gets totally political, and its surprisingly great, crowed Upworthy. Heineken shows Pepsi the right way to make a politically charged ad, proclaimed Mashable, seeming to forget that there isnt one.
Some will rightly be offended by the idea that the trans woman and the (presumably) cis woman, respectively, were asked to have friendly conversations with men who refused to acknowledge their basic human rights at least, not until they drank Heinekens magical anti-bigotry elixir.
Of course, politics are not just a matter of individual enlightenment or lack thereof. Theyre about underlying social forces, which means empathy and dialogue can only take us so far, as can bonds forged before you knew someones political views. (Ask anyone whose family was torn apart by the 2016 election.)
This ad doesnt exist to solve the worlds problems, but to make you buy a product by causing you to associate whatever warm fuzzies it elicits in you with its particular brand of carbonated yeast water. Have you learned nothing from Mad Men? That this ad was deemed good by most people just means it does a better job than other ads of hiding that fact.
At least the Pepsi ad prompted people to join together in mockery of its clumsy attempts at co-opting resistance movements. If you hated the Pepsi ad but liked this one, what you are basically saying is, I want to be pandered to more effectively.
Like all companies, Heineken is an amoral entity that treats human beings as expendable assets who exist purely to have their labor power exploited for the purposes of enriching its shareholders.
Not because it is evil, but because it is incentivized to do so by our current economic system. Despite what green or woke brands may tell you, there is no ethical consumption under capitalism.
That vague progressivism is now a better way to sell beer than, say, hot chicks in bikinis, is a reflection of shifting societal attitudes for which Heineken can take no credit. If focus groups said theyd sell more beer by bringing back the hot chicks, theyd run all the red lights on the way to the Playboy mansion. Its advertisings raison dtre.
The one thing I will grant Heineken is that alcohol lowers peoples inhibitions, which could lead to civil conversation about hot button issues. But unfortunately, given the realities of the world in which we live, such a booze-drenched meeting of the minds is just as likely to end in a fist fight.
- This article was amended on 1 May 2017. The original version erroneously referred to Anheuser-Busch InBev as the owner of Heineken, which is incorrect.