How Heineken paved new ways into Creative Effectiveness

01 July 2021

Heineken is a company that knows its success regarding the power of branding, as one of the Top 100 Global Brands. The brand has nearly 150 years behind its iconic beer, with creativity and storytelling being the major ingredients in Heineken’s established status. 

As digital marketing evolves, more opportunities to effectively measure the impact arise. Heineken wanted to change their existing approach to evaluating and powering creative effectiveness. As one of the most popular beer brands, Heineken also needed a way to evaluate their creative effectiveness cross-market, and the other 300 brands they own.

The Value of Creative

We now live in an age where data helps many brands understand their audience better, and in more depth, than before, and marketers are keener than ever to understand the value of every aspect and level of campaigns. Regarding creative, it can be harder to objectively assess the performance of a campaign, despite the well-established importance in the industry.

In 2019, Heineken began a project to face this challenge and created a step-change in their understanding of what provokes creative effectiveness.

AI Insights

Heineken worked closely with Facebook and CreativeX, an AI analytics company, to determine potential elements of creative effectiveness. AI stands for Artificial Intelligence, which is the stimulation of human intelligence processed by a machine.

The CEO of CreativeX, Anastasia Leng says; “CreativeX uses a combination of audio, vision and text detection to identify elements present in creative”, she goes on to say, “brands use this to automate the measurement of objectively understand the impact of creative decisions they’re making”.

CreativeX’s technology analysed hundreds of Heineken’s static and video elements to identify whether branding or people were present. Over two years, the technology looked through 190 campaigns across Heineken’s brands. To measure this impact, Facebook set up Brand Lift, which relies on Randomised Control Trial based design. Brand Lift allows you to count the direct impact of a particular campaign on business results, and the model used in this case found that the elements used accounted for over 50% of the brand value Heineken achieved on Facebook.

What They Learned

The three-way collaboration gained valuable expertise to connect creative elements to actual business results, and therefore a framework for future success. Some of the insights were obvious; using the right format ratio and designing for mobile, were as expected. Others were more subtle; Heineken found that the presence of people in videos was as important when driving effectiveness.

Measuring Creative Excellence

Heineken then implemented CreativeX’s in-flight measurement tools, which allowed them to begin measuring the quality of the creative globally in real-time. The analysis emphasised the importance of the creative, so Heineken set the goal to achieve 100% adoption of brand-specific practices. They are now looking to expand the use of creative data further, to inform creative development in the future.

What Does This Mean for Marketers?

Marketers know all they need to around creative matters, but there is no consensus within the industry on how to best quantify its impact consistently. AI can be an important tool by revealing the actual outcome for multiple campaigns on a large scale. The three-way partnership between Heineken, Facebook and CreativeX shows AI-based creative quality solutions can make sure the creative content is suitable for success, and allows creative teams can focus on what they do best; being creative.

Here are three things to remember:

1. A journey begins with a single step

Whether to decide you want to drive short-term or long-term effectiveness, you can’t solve it all in one go. You need to start small and on one metric, adding more metrics and discovering new tools gradually. 

2. Cherish creativity

Use AI-based creative solutions as diagnostic tools with large-scale campaigns, geographics and platforms. Your brand will gain scale, consistency and recommendations when grounded in science. Once you have built a strong foundation, the complete potential of storytelling and creativity will magnify the impact; iconic campaigns mean long-lasting effects.

3. Collaborate

In order to make iconic and effective creative campaigns and content for your brand, you need to bring together internal and external teams, and a range of innovative tools.


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