Vigilante Gives Voice to Heineken

NEW YORK Heineken USA has launched a series of radio spots featuring ESPN SportsCenter anchorman Stuart Scott. The national campaign, tagged “It’s all about the beer,” will air throughout the summer.

Five 60-second spots portray Heineken beer as central to nightlife experiences, such as time out at a pool hall or club. Heineken brand manager Scott Hunter Smith said Scott punctuates each ad with flavorful commentary and his trademark catchphrases he uses during his SportsCenter shows.

Heineken hopes to attract the attention of 21- to 34-year-old males. Like most beer companies, sports fans make up a major part of that demographic. Because of Scott’s well-known sportscasts, his voice is recognizable to a major portion of the target audience.

The brewer, however, did not only have sports fans in mind when it approved the idea presented by New York agency Vigilante. Smith said crossing market segments to reach a wider audience was Heineken’s main goal for the spots.

“We didn’t buy him because of his tie to sports—that’s an added bonus because he is so well known in the sports world—but rather because his personality fits what we wanted,” Smith said. “We like who he is because he crosses all ethnicities, all genres, all kinds of personalities. He is just a likeable kind of guy.”

Originally, Vigilante presented the concept as a TV commercial, but Smith said Heineken decided it was a better fit for radio.

“We felt we needed to spruce up our radio campaign,” Smith said. “We needed someone that could bring a beer situation to life, and Stuart’s personality helped enhance that situation and brought Heineken to life on the radio.”

The spots began airing in May and run Thursday through Sunday on urban and rock radio stations nationwide, Smith said. The series might eventually lead to similar television commercials, he said.

Heineken’s media budget for the radio campaign was unavailable. According to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, Heineken’s total advertising spending, which includes both the Heineken and Amstel Light brands, was $69 million in 2002 and $16 million from January to March 2003.