The comically reluctant celebrity endorser can be a fun character, when done right. Ricky Gervais practically perfected it last week for Optus and Netflix in Australia. Now, Neil Patrick Harris returns for Heineken Light—and manages to ambivalently introduce a money back guarantee from the beer brand.
The actor stars in a 15-second TV teaser and two-minute online video from Wieden + Kennedy New York. In both, he makes abundantly clear that he personally won't be giving you your money back if you don't like the stuff. Somebody else will. Somebody at Heineken, probably. He doesn't really know.
Suggesting your endorser doesn't know much, or care much, about your product is obviously a delicate balancing act. But Harris pulls it off pretty well. In the longer video, he even takes mild offense at being "recognized" for the commercial work. (Though perhaps that's better than being recognized for having hosted this year's Oscars.)
The money back offer is real, though not available in all states. It follows Heineken Light being named the best-tasting low-calorie lager at the 2014 World Beer Championships for the second straight year. (Reformulated in 2013, the beer is brewed with Cascade hops, which gives it a floral, fruity hop aroma.)
The reluctant endorser idea, of course, will be popular with younger consumers who'll get more out of it than a regular pitch. And in fact, Heineken Light was created with millennials in mind, Ralph Rijks, vice president of Heineken USA, told Adweek.
"According to the Consumer Edge Insights' Beverage DemandTracker, we found that 40 percent of 21- to 27-years-olds desire light beer with a more full-flavored taste," he said. "To meet consumer demand for fuller-flavored beers, Heineken reformulated the brew with Cascade hops in 2013, which are particularly beneficial in enhancing the taste and give it a fuller flavor, crisper aftertaste and a clean finish, yet we've preserved the easy-to-drink, effervescent, low-calorie beer that Heineken Light drinkers love."
Rijks called Harris "a phenomenal partner" who's "hugely talented, creative and witty." He added that the brand thought Harris did "a fantastic job" on the Oscars.
"He's constantly pushing his own comfort zone," said Rijks. "Heineken's brand ethos is living a legendary life, and we believe that Neil has been doing just that with his various projects. We're looking forward to everything that he has going for him this year."
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, New York