Matthew Miller
May 21, 2014

Heineken and Droga5 ‘uncage’ a rebranded Tiger

ASIA-PACIFIC - Determined to build the brand it acquired in 2012 into the world’s "iconic Asian beer", Heineken Asia-Pacific has launched an ambitious rebranding strategy for Tiger Beer.

Heineken and Droga5 ‘uncage’ a rebranded Tiger

Tiger’s sales volume grew by 30 per cent in 2013, but the brand still has a lot of untapped potential that the parent company intends to capitalise on, according to Mie-Leng Wong, Heineken APAC’s brand director for Tiger.

The rebranding, new visual identity and new strategic positioning that Wong has been working on since she took her job in June last year debuted tonight. The campaign begins in the brand’s ancestral home of Singapore but will spread quickly and eventually reach 25 countries.

Tiger uncage’, developed with new creative partner Droga5, intentionally defies segment conventions, Wong said. It features the personal stories of real young people from Asia who have broken free from conformity: a stuntman, a filmmaker and a tattoo artist (below, or, click here for a playlist of all the one-minute and long-form versions of the videos). Heineken gave the account to Droga5 after a pitch late last year, but only revealed the partnership today.

The new strategy is “boldly Asian” and strongly rejects the idea that young people in the region need to look to the west or western brands for validation, Wong told Campaign Asia-Pacific.

“The insight, that we all have cages and have to conform to societal or family expectations, is super-relevant among young people in Asia,” she said. "Our consumer is living in an Asia full of opportunities, but is caged by conformity. Tiger wants to be the symbol of courage to break free from that.”

Heineken made clear from the beginning this this was a “step-change moment” for the brand, David Nobay, creative chairman of Droga5 Sydney, told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “We all agreed from day one on what we were not going to do: a traditional campaign.”

The obvious way to approach telling true stories would be with a straight documentary style. “So we didn't do that," he said. The films use visual effects to dramatise both the constraints the individuals face and the full potential they reach by breaking out of those cages. Of course there are also scenes of attractive young people enjoying beer in social situations. But Nobay asserted that the work has a certain “grit” that not only makes it stand out from the overly polished work in the segment but also complements the way the story subjects went against the grain.

“Tiger is a well-known brand,” Wong said. “But what does it really stand for? For the younger generation, a brand needs to have a certain conviction, a certain belief.” As Tiger works to convey that authentic stance, don’t expect to spot well-known celebrities. “The campaign is much more about storytelling than about classical brand endorsement,” Wong said. “The strategy is about capturing the stories of people who have uncaged themselves. These are real authentic personalities. The stories we reflect are their stories, not marketing inventions.”

After Singapore, the campaign will roll out in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia over the next few months, followed by Malaysia and China in September. In addition to the films, subtly enhanced bottle, and new packaging, it includes print advertising and digital engagements. The new campaign website is inviting people to upload images of their own ‘cages’ or their “uncaged dreams”, for example.

“What you'll see is, what we haven't created is an ad,” Nobay said. “We're trying to create a space—online, live—where things can happen.”

And although the campaign here in APAC will be resolutely Asian, Nobay said the platform is universal enough to play anywhere, including Europe and Latin America. “What's really exciting about this is we want to create the brand here in Asia, and really celebrate it here, but then take that to every corner of the world," he said.


Why a Sydney agency won Tiger

David Nobay, creative chairman of Droga5 Sydney, admits some might question why an Australian agency should be responsible for a brand that has its origins in Singapore and wants to cultivate an authentically Asian image.

Parent company Heineken had been aware of the agency because the New York office had handled Newscastle, so when Heineken decided to rebrand Tiger, Droga5 was one of the few agencies it spoke to. David Droga himself participated in the pitch, which the agency won on the strength of the platform that you see in action today, Nobay added.

That led to a "baptism by fire" as the agency and production partner Finch hit the ground running, spending the next five months in production. The team produced everything from six-second Vines all the way up to quite serious, three-minute films you see above, not to mention a "huge amount" of print, outdoor and an entirely new website.

Nobay said the partnership could be a catalyst for other clients to have a look at Aussie agencies, because it proves an agency in Australia can produce work on this grand scale despite the distances involved.

Not only that, he asserted, but the agency's outsider position might be a creative advantage. "When we look at Asia, and I mean specific countries, it's with a lot of excitement," he said. "And we don't bring along a lot of luggage, the baggage about how things are done here, or how things should look."

Having fresh eyes on the brand is an advantage for the brand, he said: "Hopefully when people see the work, that vitality will come through."


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