Heineken’s Global UEFA CL Refresh #ChampionTheMatch Looks Beyond Football

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Heineken is rebooting last season’s Champions League #ShareTheSofa social activation with #ChampionTheMatch – a fresh matchday and in-game campaign.


UEFA’s official beer brand has launched its 2015 Champions League activity with a dynamic 90-second global TV spot, called ‘The Match’, exploring just how far a fan will go to see a big game.


The commercial, developed with agency Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam, is set on a cargo ship whose crew are desperate to watch a football match.



The main commercial is supported by a (slightly disconnected) teaser film fronted by Barcelona star Xavi.



Both act as a call to action for Heineken’s central activation strand – a digital push which builds on the #ShareTheSofa campaign that has run for the past two years.


(See previous case study.)


The #ShareTheSofa activity connected fans with a series of legendary Champions League players and celebrity ambassadors – enabling them to connect through YouTube and interact via Twitter which matches were in-progress.


The objective was to drive fan social and mobile engagement and position it as an enhancement to the parallel TV viewing experience.


The new #ChampionTheMatch reboot evolves the in-game Twitter Q&A into a full match day engagement experience and will see Heineken release content through both the pre-game build up and during post-match discussions and debates.


This will see nine iconic players  – such as Rio Ferdinand for Madrid v Schalke – provide live match ‘commentary’ alongside non-football celebrities and surprise guests during every match week from February until the final.


Ruud Gullit was joined by Swiss snowboarder Gian Simmen

These additional features and offerings, created by DDB & Tribal Worldwide Amsterdam, will focus on social occasions and, for example, will encouraging fans to host their own Champions League party nights with friends (at which Heineken product and branding would be present).


Other activation strands will include promotions in the on- and off-trade which will be rolled out in more than 90 different countries before the May final.


There will also be competitions giving fans the chance to win ticket prizes and other rewards.


Heineken is also running its branded ‘Heineken Trophy Tour’ for the ninth consecutive year – an initiative which is largely based around letting fans take their picture with the trophy.




This is not just a refocused initiative that aims to ensure Heineken continues to dominate the in-game social conversation and to engage and interact with football fans during the heat of the match moment itself by offering a unique perspective on the game that is different from the TV output.


Despite the fact that one of Heineken’s central Champions League KPIs to be the only beer associated with the event.


But, by adding non footballing stars and celebrities, this revamped social strand aims to connect with consumers beyond the core football fan base.


Thus it shifts Heineken’s Champions League strategy into a more entertainment-driven approach – one that stretches beyond football and enables the brand to offer an engagement-driven entertainment content right through pre-game build up and post-match debate.


The reflects the growing trend for sponsors to smash through the old school segregated silo approach to sponsorship by stretching activations beyond the property’s traditional space and even by blending different properties together within single campaigns (such as Kia’s joint X-Men and Australian Open campaign from January).


‘The games are social occasions that last longer than just the 90 minutes on the pitch,’ outlines Heineken’s global activation director Hans Erik Tuijt.


‘Fans’ match day rituals are important and we want to help them make the most of the whole experience, not just the match itself. We want to encourage fans to host the ultimate match nights – be that at home or in bars; watching the matches with friends.’


This year marks Heineken’s ninth consecutive year as a top tier UEFA global sponsor for its Champions League – a tournament now watched by more than 4.2 billion people and one which can lay claim to the world’s biggest annual sports property.


Heineken signed a three-year extension of its Champions League deal in 2013, after having partnered with UEFA on the tournament since 2005.




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