Best ads in 50 years: The one-word brief for Heineken

As part of Campaign's 50th anniversary, we asked the industry to look back on the best ads of the past 50 years. We are revealing one a day for your viewing pleasure...

'Policemen's feet' and 'Water in Majorca'

Collett Dickenson Pearce / 1974 and 1985

As the story goes, this was a one-word brief. It said "REFRESHMENT" on a sticky note. Six weeks in, they had nothing. Then, on a trip to Marrakech, the idea came to the copywriter at 3am. Thankfully he woke up and wrote it down.

Not being from here, I spoke to a former landlady about these ads – her pub was a proud server of Heineken in the 1970s and 1980s. Her recollection was of quite sensible men doing the Majorca accent or a policeman’s bob when asking for a pint. Heineken sales went through the roof.

And right there is the power of this idea. It burst into culture in a pure and unapologetic way. More importantly, it gave people a playbook of how to embrace the brand, making the campaign viral before most people had even heard of a computer. It did all this while reinforcing that product attribute from the brief.

Hermeti Balarin is a partner and executive creative director at Mother

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