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Freek Janssen

Published on

July 4, 2014


newsjacking, worldcup

Being Dutch, I experienced at least one embarrassing moment during this World Cup.

And I don’t mean the penalty caused by Arjan Robben’s dive (although this incident gave way to some of the most creative newsjacking initiatives so far).

In case you missed it: after the Dutch victory over Mexico, Royal Dutch Airlines KLM posted a tweet of an airline departures sign under the heading ‘Adios Amigos’. That could have been funny, if they hadn’t included a picture of a man wearing a sombrero and a moustache.

It led to a storm of protest, KLM deleted the tweet and said sorry.

So, do the Dutch lack a sense of humor? Are companies in the Netherlands not getting the hang of newsjacking? Let me try to save our reputation just a little, by sharing an example of one of the best WC campaigns I have seen so far (apart from McDonald’s’ amazing viral, maybe): Heineken.

If I had to name one brand that is creative, smart and, above all, witty on social media around events, it would be Heineken. Three years ago, when Barcelona played against Manchester in the 2011 Champions League finals, Heineken saw an opportunity in the Twitter hashtag of the match: #barman.

An imaginary bartender commented on the entire game, and as a result Heineken was one of the most retweeted brands during the finals.

Chief Orange Officer

Needless to say that the revenue potential for Heineken during the WC is huge. So the brand decided to go all the way with a full-blown social media campaign in the Netherlands.

A Chief Orange Officer was appointed: a central (imaginary) figure with his own Twitter account who appeared in many commercials and ads. When the Dutch football team flew to Brazil, he waved them goodbye by delivering a message to our heroes on the top of the roof of their production facility – created with cakes of beer.


Heineken fans were challenged to make an orange ‘sambaselfie‘, the most original one would win a ticket to Brazil. I don’t know the exact numbers, but the volume of selfies entered and the creativity that was used has been extremely impressive. It even encouraged other brands like Adobe to create their own sambaselfie – using Photoshop, of course.

Most important lesson

But the element of the Heineken campaign that really struck me as being genius, is that the brand is responsible for most of the jokes that are made and shared on social media – without the brand name even being mentioned.

Heineken decided to ask some of the most popular and humorous Twitter users in the Netherlands to get together during each and every match, and come up with funny comments, visuals and jokes. There is no mentioning of the brand, but they do use the hashtag #twelftal (meaning a football team of twelve people). The hashtag has become a trending topic on several occasions.

The team has been put together by Boomerang Create, a creative agency that is responsible for Heineken’s Facebook page. Martijn Konings, one of the members of the #twelftal team: “The idea was to get together and do what we always tend to do during important matches: comment on the game on Twitter. Heineken supported this idea and enables it in every way to run this campaign. Twelftal is our way to show our support for the national football team.” So, what’s in it for Heineken?

The media found out that the beer brand has initiated this idea, which has generated a lot of positive publicity. All it took was get some creative minds together, give them some beer and the result is a hugely positive vibe around the brand.

All the elements of a successful campaign are there: there is an obvious relevance to the target audience and a positive sentiment around the brand, shared by fans. But above all #twelftal is about being creative, and doing so quickly.

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