Heineken Made an HR Campaign That’s as Cool as Any Consumer Ads It’s Done

Dive behind the scenes of 'Go Places'

Oh, the places you'll go!

In 2013, Heineken scored a bronze Lion at Cannes with "The Candidate," an internship contest that generated a whopping 1,734 global entries. 

Now, the brand is back to recruiting with "Go Places," led by a musical Dr. Seuss-ish video inviting talent to respond to 12 questions, which must be answered in three to five seconds. Based on the Enneagram model, the results give you a personal profile, which must be sent along with your résumé when applying for your Heineken dream gig on LinkedIn. 

The video features a passel of actual Heineken employees, giving it a playful, personal touch (if that's something you can say about a brand, which we guess is something you can, since our jobs revolve around giving brands a personality in the first place): 

The "Go Places" site, created over one-and-a-half years by Wefilm, Cloudfactory and Superhero Cheesecake (which managed the tech and interactivity), makes the interview process feel thorough, quick and surprisingly fun—if sometimes reductive. (We're told one guy used two mouses to give multiple answers at once … and scored really well.)

Play with the site here.

"Heineken revolves around the personality of their employees, and they want these personalities to thrive. That's the main message that had to come across in a way that stands out from all other HR campaigns," explains Wefilm director Lennart Verstegen. "This has to be the first time HR has released a really cool campaign, reflecting values in a way only Heineken can: Ever witty and smart." 

The "interview" is also packed with nifty localizations—a tribute to Heineken's attention to detail. This affects everything from the Interviewer's clock, which shows your local time, to the beers and food he flashes before you at rapier speed. 

"You see empanadas when watching in Mexico, and a noodle soup when viewing in Vietnam. The same thing occurs when presented a local beer—you see one that is actually local in your market: Amstel beer in the Netherlands (a Heineken company beer!) and Star Beer in Nigeria (also a Heineken beer)," says Verstegen. 

"This way we can make the process highly relevant to different cultures, without it really sticking out like some crazy trick. It's something I think is highly classy and intelligent." 

Once you've got your results (we're Initiators!), you're driven to Heineken's LinkedIn page, where you can sift through job openings and find one you like best. This process is choppier than the interview; the application websites vary, and are just about as fun as any you've ever been on—that is to say, dry as dirt after a brushfire. 

But the story behind "Go Places" is rich and nuanced, informed by the real adventures of Heineken employees. 

"They wanted it to be a manifesto internally, for new employees and for new breweries, so they would feel what Heineken Company was about," says Cloudfactory creative Jessica Kersten. The work, she adds, was fueled by two major insights: serendipity, and protecting the idea's soul in execution (a weirdly apt word in this context). 

"The first day we started to work on the big idea, we stumbled upon an article in a Dutch magazine lying in our studio about Freddy Heineken," Kersten goes on. "The subject was how Freddy recruited his top talents. He had an interesting final interview that is quite different from what we know in the corporate world today. He used to invite the candidate and his wife—not too many female candidates at that time!—for dinner." 

As the candidate seated himself, Freddy would get a staged call from the HR department, requesting critical documentation. As Freddy's chauffeur drove the candidate away, Freddy would grill his wife to find out who this guy truly was. 

"Freddy knew that even though someone had all the right skills and experience, the personality mattered as much," says Kersten. "He wanted managers that could handle difficult situations in different countries around the world. It would be romanticizing the creative process to say that 'Go Places' was born that day, but we kept that inspiring story at the center of our idea."

"It was like Freddy's ghost gave us the key!" Cloudfactory creative Sandrine Huijgen exclaims.

Huijgen adds: "We spent a lot of time interviewing employees. As during Freddy's time, employees are being sent around the world on difficult missions and need their personality as much as their skills to be successful." 

Some of the stories sound like the stuff of spy fiction.

"A few of the employees we cast in the film have a seriously crazy career behind them," says Huijgen. "Dolf van den Brink was a longtime commercial director in Congo, and faced life-threatening situations during his tenure—he literally saved people by hiding them in the brewery during riots, and hid under his car … to avoid being shot at. Talking to him at a party is like having a beer with Indiana Jones!" 

As far as Verstegen is concerned, "'Go Places' is game-changing, delivering a punchy message in a dry, corporate environment. We took Heineken's wish to come with something that exceeds all expectations within that very serious 'corporate world,' and it is hopefully regarded as a place where people can be better off than before." 

"If you take the Interview, you feel the Heineken Company is unlike any other," Kersten adds. "When you go through the questions and feel the humor, the energy and vibrancy of the employees, you want to join them! Finally, an interview is in reality a moment when a company and a potential employee evaluate if they are going to be a match. 

"This is exactly what our interview is doing," she concludes. "After you're done, you will either think, I love this company or This is not for me. Heineken will use the results to talk about your personality in a real interview, and assess it to fit the company culture." 

The campaign just went live on LinkedIn and Facebook.

CREDITS

Client: The Heineken Company (Chris van Steenbergen, Gianluca Di Tondo, Soren Hagh, Dario Gargiulo, Alfonso Aunon Garcia, Nikki van Deijzen, Kelsey Sibley, Stephanie Peels)
Heineken Casting Director: Saskia den Hollander
Agency: Cloudfactory
Creatives: Sandrine Huijgen, Jessica Kersten, Olivier Teepe (digital creatief), Lennart Verstegen (Wefilm)
Managing Partner: Sandeep Chawla
Account Director: Lennard Franken
Agency Producers: Stefany Rietkerk, Lars Fabery de Jonge, Jeanette Luttik
Traffic Manager: Saffron Pape
Production: Wefilm
Director: Lennart Verstegen
Producer: Bo Polak
Executive Producers: Tobias Wilbrink, Bas Welling
Offline Editor: Nick Rozenberg
Postproduction: The Compound
Fotograaf: Jan-Willem Kaltenbach
Styling: Alette Kraan
Set Design: Florian Legters
Director of Photography: Rutger Storm
Music: Paraphrase
Sound: Sauvage Sound
Interactive Design: Superhero Cheesecake
Cast: Thanks to all Heineken employees who participated