Why Heineken is embracing a 'naive' view of the world

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In an increasingly nationalist world, the brand wants to be on the side of the "open-minded generation."

Heineken's new global campaign encourages men to expand their horizons by portraying their familiar urban environment as a cinematic playground.

The "Trailblazers" campaign, created by Publicis Milan, marks the fourth year of the lager brand’s 'Cities' platform.

Heineken's global brand communication director, Anuraag Trikha, told Campaign that 'Cities' was about recognising that local areas were "the perfect way to connect a global point of view to local needs." For the brand’s young male target audience, Trikha added, "cities are their playing field."

The new spot launches this month in Canada and the Philippines, and rolls out later this year to a number of other markets including Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Jamaica and Vietnam.

The ad features a group of friends heading out for the night, and deciding, rather than going to their usual haunt, to try somewhere new. The gang steps into a cloud of smoke and emerges on a Roman battlefield, dressed as centurions.

They are later transported to the high seas, snow-capped mountains, and outer space, before rolling into a trendy rooftop bar. The ads will be bookended by establishing shots of a city relevant to each market in which the campaign runs.

What Heineken was trying to overcome, said Trikha, was automatic behavior – something that posed a problem for the brand in markets in which it is less established.

"Once we get used to a certain village or neighborhood, we tend to get a little comfortable and that tends to become our world," he said. "When you have other brands that are more local than you are, consumers become more content with their own bar around the corner or their own beer around the corner.

"Our job is to say, if you were a little bit more adventurous, there might be something around the corner that might surprise you, so why don’t you be brave?"

Trikha acknowledged the tension that exists between the open, globalized world and more insular attitudes - a divide linked by commentators to both the Brexit debate and last year's US election.

This, he said, meant that a brand with the global footprint of Heineken had to choose a side, even while trying to reconcile the global with the local.

"One of the things you notice recently is there are two generations – there’s an open-minded generation and a closed-minded generation. It’s about attitude, not about age. And Heineken has to be on the side of the open-minded.

"It’s like the childlike naiveness to believe it’s better to be optimistic, better to be curious than to be safe."

At present the campaign is not set to run in the UK, US or the major western European markets, but Trikha said further markets could come on board. "We’re choosing our platforms based on market needs, market priorities – this is one of the many platforms we have on the table," he added.