Sports Social Media Activations in the Age of Pandemics
For the past several years, Heineken, the second largest brewery in the world, has invested in positioning itself as “The Official Beer of Soccer,” going so far as to apply for a trademark in January of 2019. Now in 2020, the brewery has been forced to pivot its marketing strategies to account for the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In response, Heineken moved to take advantage of consumers’ increased social media usage during the ongoing pandemic by activating one of its most critical sponsorships in the United States, Major League Soccer.
Thus, the #CheersFromHome campaign was born. Scheduled to take advantage of the final rounds of the MLS is Back tournament, the campaign utilized a social media activation to further align the brand with soccer in the United States and promote its new Heineken 0.0 non-alcoholic beer by offering fans the opportunity to win an exclusive in-home stadium experience.
Heineken created the #CheesrFromHome campaign to tap into a unique moment in US soccer history. As MLS returned to action following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, clubs took the field behind closed doors in Orlando, Florida, leaving fans with no choice but to watch their favorite teams from their living room as the country worked to curb the pandemic by socially distancing.
Knowing fans were desperate to get back into the stadium, Heineken developed the “Stadium in a Box” grand prize so that fans could get a taste of their favorite stadium seat in their own living room.
The brand used Twitter as the mode of entry for the sweepstakes, driving consumer engagement on the platform while also fostering user-generated content (UGC). The campaign was promoted on other social media platforms, including Instagram, and was supported by a landing page where fans could learn more. Heineken’s own organic efforts were supplemented by support from MLS’s leaguewide social media channels as well as by those of its individual clubs.
In addition, Heineken utilized an influencer network on Twitter that featured former players and analysts, all of which carry significant influence and authority within the US soccer community online.
Was It Worth It?
While Heineken has yet to publish any sort of results for the campaign, it will be interesting to learn just how successful the brand was at connecting with its target audience. The brand did well to create a highly relevant and ostensibly engaging campaign, tapping into a truly unprecedented situation and blending it with a key product. However, I do believe digital marketers need to identify the value and efficiency of giveaway-centered campaigns.
There are certainly some complicating factors. If, as a brand, you’re asking consumers to take action, how complicated can you make the instructions? The answer to this question is critical because it weighs significantly on the choice of platform or platforms you can use in the campaign.
Can you create a campaign that can jump platforms or will it suffer from the inevitable bleed of consumers who will not move from Twitter to Instagram, for example? How about the content itself? The social media game is all about the transaction of content in exchange for attention. Is a giveaway truly compelling or will consumers simply scroll past the content because they don’t believe the minuscule chance of winning is worth their time?
Marketers have a tendency to fall in love with their own ideas in a vacuum. The “Stadium in a Box” seems like a fun and unique way to activate a sponsorship to promote a product, but without the right delivery method, it may fall short of impressing upon the target audience. Ultimately, the answer to the question – Was it worth it? – will always depend on what Heineken’s objectives were for the campaign.