Publicis Wants You to Get to Know Heineken, the ‘Famous’ Benicio del Toro

By Erik Oster 

Publicis launched a new campaign for Heineken with a 30-second spot starring Benicio del Toro entitled “Famous.”

The ad opens with del Toro’s informing viewers, “Heineken is served in 192 countries,” adding, “It’s world famous…like me.” After delivering the line a group of passers-by spot the Oscar-winning actor and ask him for a selfie opportunity. He obliges, but is visibly annoyed when he discovers they don’t actually know who he is, before the ad ends with the tagline “There’s more behind the star.” While the spot aims for humor, there’s more to the comparison than a quick gag.

“The U.S. is our No. 1 country,” Heineken USA CMO Nuno Teles told Adweek. “We know that we are respected as a brand here—but we are not known as a brand. That is the purpose of this campaign, to let them know Heineken more, as well as to know Benicio, who they also don’t know that well.”

“There’s a great correlation between Benicio and the beer,” added Publicis Worldwide North America CCO Andy Bird, “Since there are a lot of things behind both that people don’t know.”

The average consumer doesn’t know, for example, that Heineken is brewed with only three ingredients (unlike American adjunct lagers like Budweiser and Miller, which incorporate ingredients like rice and corn into the brewing process).

“When I came to the U.S. from Brazil two years ago, I talked to bartenders and consumers. Few of them knew Heineken was family owned,” Teles said. “I’d ask them, ‘Did you know we brew in horizontal, not vertical tanks? Did you know we only use three ingredients, or that we add yeast as a catalyst and not an ingredient?’ And some people don’t know. We need to tell that story to consumers.”

In a second, online spot, Heineken brewmaster Willem van Waesberghe sits down with del Toro and discusses the brand’s international reach and quality control. As they’re talking a fan recognizes Willem (bot not Benicio).