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Heineken: When Pepsi Isn’t Strong Enough To Do The Trick

By now, most of us are well acquainted with Pepsi’s ad starring Kendall Jenner and the backlash Pepsi received for co-opting modern protest imagery for corporate gain (see last blog post). After that debacle, Heineken decided to jump on the PR opportunity with their own ad solving political differences with a beverage. And it seemed to work, with some people going so far as to call it the antidote to the Pepsi ad. 

This ad is 4 and a half minutes long, features two people of opposing opinions participating in an odd variety of icebreakers/team-building exercises together. After all that, it’s revealed that they have “opposing” political views, and then they talk it out over a beer, and life is so happy yay!

Here are the scenarios:

Group 1) One person thinks Climate Change is a critical contemporary issue, the other doesn’t think climate change exists.

Group 2) One person self-describes as a feminist, the other thinks feminism is misandry and claims,  “women do need to remember that we need you to have our children.”

Group 3) One person is transgendered, the other doesn’t believe that transgendered people are legitimate.

So what we’re looking at isn’t two people of opposing political views discussing their differences over a beer, we’re looking at three reasonable people who’s ideologies are based in observable fact, paired with three people who are willfully ignorant and/or bigoted.

While it’s tempting to view this ad as progressive and subscribe to the notion that there’s more that brings us together than divides us, it normalizes these bigoted views by putting them on equal footing with reasonable viewpoints. Conflating fact and opinion devalues fact and elevates individual opinion, even if it has no basis in reality.

Heineken put out a really smart ad. At then end, it pulls at those Liberal heart strings: “maybe we really can change people after all!” But this is dangerous ideology couched in a flowery, positivist message. It insinuates that all we need to do is have a conversation, that the burden of education is with the marginalized. That calmly tolerating oppression in the face of others who literally don’t believe in your humanity is the way to an equitable world.

And on the way to that equitable world, why not grab a case of Heineken?


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