Does Heineken hate beer babes?

Advertising deconstructed.
Aug. 18 2003 10:47 AM

Does Heineken Hate Beer Babes?

Perhaps you're sick of advertising and all its predictable gimmicks. You know who else is? Advertisers. Two recent spots, one from Heineken, the other from Champion Sportswear, go after some of the most conspicuous commercial targets.


Which party is more staged? First up: beer babes. Two of the noisiest campaigns of the last 12 months have been the Coors Light "twins" ads and the Miller Lite "catfight" ads, both of which relied on the familiar theory that sexy women make great sales props. And it looks as though we're seeing more of the same in a spot that seems to be set at a rooftop party. There's a tattooed dude, dancing with beer in hand, and lots of energetic young men and women, expressing a suspicious amount of joie de vivre while a ludicrous fast-rock song plays. (The lyrics: "Raise the roof! The beer is here! Come on everybody and grab a beer!") A trio of identical blondes in revealing shorts prance vacantly into the milieu, knocking over a cardboard version of themselves. Then a voice speaking through a bullhorn shouts, "Come on give me some skin." Ah, it's the director of the "commercial." "Cut!" he yells.

Viewing all this from across the way are attendees at another rooftop party—a real one. It's mellow, with laid-back R & B playing, a little barbecue, a big old dog, and a (suspiciously) multi-culti crew all having the time of their enlightened lives together. Basquiat-like graffiti lends the perfect urban-hipster-sophisticate touch. I mean, there's still a hot girl in a bikini top in the crowd—but it's not like she's blond or anything.

Dissing champions to promote Champion The Champion ad makes a more emotional play. As an elegiac piano plunks, we see images from the basketball court and the boxing ring—but the ball, and the canvas, are emblazoned with outsized dollar bill images. "When did the logo on your shoe become more important than the heart on your sleeve?" a borderline-outraged announcer demands. "When did the word 'renegotiate' move from the business page to the sports page?

"Where have all the champions gone?"

In answer, we cut to shots of amateur athletes—football in the park, shooting hoops in a desolate lot, a woman running, etc. "We're still out there," the announcer reassures. "You'll find us in the places where the lights don't flash and where the only contract you sign is with yourself. We are the champions. And we aren't going anywhere."

It would of course be a mistake to read any of this as a sea change. Athlete endorsements will continue to outrage—and they will continue, at times, to work. And it almost goes without saying that scantily clad women will never go out of style.

Still, both of these ads use disenchantment to good effect. So what if that Heineken party looks—and of course is—every bit as concocted as the one it's looking down on? So what if the Champion ad sneers at logos by touting its own brand? Advertising isn't about a consistent worldview; in this case, it's about catching a mood. Right now the mood happens to be a little testy about certain commercial tactics and trends. So why should an advertiser fight that, when they can simply join in?



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.