As we approach the business end of the beermat-shredding, soft drink-addled month of January, those attempting to abstain from the pain-easing qualities of sweet, sweet liquor don’t have too long to go. Endured for a myriad of reasons, as admirable as Dryathon’s and the like are to some, you wouldn’t expect an alcohol manufacturer to openly suggest potential drinkers lay off their product, would you? Well, that’s exactly what global behemoths Heineken are doing, with their Dance More Drink Slow campaign, released at the beginning of the month with a glossy TV advert, and appropriate #DMDS hashtag (which I always think looks like DMS, something the top-brass at Heineken probably wouldn’t appreciate).
The campaign, the ad for which is above, “focuses on the core elements of what makes a night unforgettable”, and ends with the tagline “Enjoy the sunrise, dance more and drink slow”. Essentially, the take-home message is to lay off the booze a bit, have a boogie instead, and you’re less likely to end up spewing in a night-bus shelter and taking a swing at someone in Chicken Cottage. As a company, Heineken are taking this approach extremely seriously, signing up A-List DJ’s to front the campaign, and rolling out their (slightly less trendy) CEO’s for seminars on alcohol misuse.
In brief, the ‘Sunrise’ advert follows a tooth-achingly beautiful man, who turns up at his local discotheque for a night of Euro-centric happy house from Audrey Napoleon (I’m not much of a clubber; I think that’s what’s happening). After he realises the potentiality of the evening, he spells his refreshing Heineken by drinking bottles of water – even selecting one after the barman had already opened a beer, which pisses them off, take it from me. Our dancer then appears to save a man’s life by pushing him back onto a pedestal, before successfully navigating to 6am and leaving with his prize (“Come on Audrey, I’ll buy you a full English”), emerging blinking into the sunlight like survivors of an apocalypse, rather than an 80’s night in Nuneaton.
I’ve long been interested in lager advertising, and Heineken are certainly one of the more comment-worthy of the macro-pushers. After writing about their attempt to sell beer to pensioners, I really didn’t think I’d then be writing about their adverts recommending customers drink less Heineken. But, there you go. Time will tell as to whether this campaign will run into the spring, or whether it was just a fairly clever way to get people talking about consumption during the month of the year when many are cutting back. The advert does imply that the clean-looking, dancefloor-attracted protagonists are making their choices solely to extend their fun to 6am, rather than for any of the equally important reasons why people choose to drink less on nights out.
Would this kind of approach be successful in other industries? Would Chanel put out adverts portraying miffed people in stairwells, wrinkling noses, advising customers to ‘Smell more. Spray slow’? Would Haribo issue a commercial with a four-year old reading a book with the tagline ‘Learn more. Chew slow’? Would a new campaign for Jaguar revolve around the mantra ‘Cruise more. Drive slow’?. Because that’s what this equates to. Is this a welcome attempt at self-moderation from an industry giant acknowledging a problem, or does it show the temperance movement is gaining a foothold? After the widespread ‘enjoy responsibly’ banners, are Heineken the first alcohol manufacturer attempting to pre-emptively mitigate any forthcoming cigarette-style drinks legislation? Will people really ‘Dance More Drink Slow’?