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Heineken's Reality-Style Ads Are Raking In YouTube Views

Final installment in the oddball adventure campaign

Two guys—one Irish, one Polish—wake up handcuffed to each other on a remote island in the Philippines. No, it’s not the start of a bad joke. It’s actually a new ad for Heineken launching today.

The fifth and final plotline in the beer brand’s reality-style Web series, “Dropped,” caps the oddball adventure campaign’s four prior stories, which have generated more than 2 million YouTube views since June. “Dropped” also has sent a South African man through the woodlands of central Europe to assemble a circus.

Created with Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, the video is tied to the global-travel theme of Heineken’s “Man of the World” campaign, said Sandrine Huijgen, the brand's global communications director. It’s also part of a broader marketing trend of ads masquerading as unscripted online series. Scotch Label 5 and deodorant Axe also have taken average Joes to far-flung places, capturing content to feed the marketers’ social channels.

Such unscripted series are cheaper to produce than scripted series or TV ads. The adventure-reality format is proven, thanks to shows like NBC’s Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls, said OgilvyEntertainment president Doug Scott. Brands can easily cast their target audiences into the shows, giving fans 15 minutes of fame and reaping the social benefit of relatable characters. Casting nonactors is “going to be immediately more potentially recognizable as being you,” said Wieden ecd Mark Bernath. 

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