Heineken Zero ad aims to stop people skipping the pub during Dry January

A new commercial for the booze-free beer encourages non-drinkers to keep on socialising, with a little help from a famous footballer.

Zero-alcohol beer has come a long way in the last few years. Back in the 2010s, the industry had enough work on its plate just explaining what it was, let alone why you should give it a try.

Nowadays, though, even mainstream chains like Wetherspoons have a good selection of booze-free tipples. Dry January is becoming as established in the social calendar as Christmas and New Year. And whether you’re driving, want to avoid a hangover or are just enjoying the health benefits of not drinking, most people won’t even raise an eyebrow if you raise a glass of something alcohol-free on a night out with mates.

Not everyone is yet on board with this social revolution, though. And when people (especially men) want to avoid drinking, then rather than have to explain in front of their mates, they’ll often make an excuse and not come out at all.

This is obviously a crying shame because, without stating the obvious, you don’t need alcohol to have fun with mates. So to help counter this trend, Heineken 0.0 has launched a new campaign in partnership with creative agency Publicis•Poke and football star Gareth Bale focusing on all the excuses we make to avoid drinking alcohol.

Clear and concise

The 20-second spot, ‘Don’t Bale on Your Mates’, gets the message across clearly and concisely. The ad shows a group of friends baling on their plans throughout the month, offering up fake excuses to avoid meeting up.

Ultimately, though, one of them realises they shouldn’t avoid having a good time just because they’re not drinking and joins their friends in the local pub to enjoy a Heineken 0.0. They share a laugh about how they didn’t “Gareth Bale” on their plans, only for the man himself to turn around in mock anger at the play on his name.

The ad was produced by Outsider and directed by Karien Cherry, with post-production by Time Based Arts and audio post-production by Soundtree. It will run in the UK on social-first cut-downs across Heineken’s social media channels.

Overcoming stigma

“Even with the zero-alcohol category rising in popularity, there’s still a stigma to cutting back on drinking that causes people to make excuses to avoid being around alcohol,” explains Chris Bruney, creative director at Publicis•Poke. “We worked with Heineken 0.0 to try to break that cycle whilst bringing a bit of humour to the conversation.”

Stephanie Dexter, brand director at Heineken UK, adds: “The alcohol-free category has always been about less, but we wanted to show with this campaign that Heineken 0.0 enables you to do more of what you love, like socialise with friends down the pub. With Heineken 0.0, you can keep your January resolutions and still be part of the fun. There is no need to ‘Bale’ on social plans when you have the choice of low/no products.”

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