Robert Sawatzky
Sep 3, 2021

How Alpine imagery is helping Heineken engage Asian consumers around wheat beer Edelweiss

The global director of international beers at Heineken on the launch of Edelweiss in Asia, and why Asian consumers are drawn to the fantasies evoked by mountain imagery.

How Alpine imagery is helping Heineken engage Asian consumers around wheat beer Edelweiss

By branding its new wheat beer as ‘Edelweiss’, inevitably evoking the iconic melody from The Sound of Music while conjuring images of green fields on Alpine mountainsides, one might suspect that Heineken had brewed up a fully European beer, catering to continental tastes. 

But alas, its new wheat beer brewed with mountain herbs including sage, coriander and elderflower, marks “a contemporary twist to a centuries-old beer recipe” and is being launched primarily in Asia.

Following its initial successful launch in Korea as the first test market in 2018, Heineken is now expanding Edelweiss to eight other markets, with five of these in Asia-Pacific: China, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Russia, Denmark and Chile.

“What you see here in Asia is a very interesting moment. The region has experienced such growth and so it is also with beer,” says Marcelo Amstalden Moller, Heineken’s global director of its international premium beer portfolio. “And as the beer market grows, people start to look for different tastes and brands.”

Moller says that Asia’s rapidly maturing markets mean that people tend to move on from lagers to other tastes. Here, wheat beers have a key role, he says, since they are often that first next step, which is why the wheat beer category has been growing at a 27% compound annual growth rate across Asia. 

Such rapid growth is what inspired the initial launch in Korea, where Heineken was able to do rigorous consumer testing around both the taste of the beer, but also around its branding and imagery, including how deep a shade of blue to use and how much mountain imagery to use. 

As it turns out, Asian consumers wanted more of it.

“What has grown more is the use of the Alps. So our campaign this year is ‘Feel the Alps’ and this is something we did not start with in Korea. Our provenance was very inspiring—this premium territory in Europe that consumers associate with naturalness, refreshment, but also a bit of a fun.  What happens in the Alps is skiing and beautiful walks. So all these things led us to elevate the role of our [mountain] provenance in the communication we do,” Moller explains.

Feel the Alps

The first global launch campaign for Edelweiss (see review: Be still and feel the Alps) certainly dials up the Alpine imagery. In fact, it's the sole focus of the TVC.  It features footage shot in the Alps of mountain peaks, lush forests and clear lakes which two actors (carefully chosen to appeal to both Asian and global viewers) experience by floating across and through the landscape.  There’s no dialogue at all, only the sound of wind, water and occasional birdsong. There is not even a single image of beer in the film.

“We decided to go for a non-traditional way of talking about beer. A lot of beer communications are about people having fun together and partying,” says Moller. "But because wheat beer is really a step further than lager we really wanted to lend the sensory experience you have when you drink an Edelweiss and connect this very strong with our provenance.”

Moller says since Edelweiss contains mountain herbs and leaves a fruity aftertaste it feels to consumers like they are "tasting nature". So the brief to their agency Fred & Farid Los Angeles was to make people feel like they were tasting the beer when they watched the campaign. 

“That's why we decided to show our two beautiful actors in the Alps flying over lakes and playing in the woods. Those are the sensations we want to bring with the brand," he says.

Having a less vocal campaign helps connects much more to consumers’ emotional side than normal dialogue or text, Moller adds. It also has the added benefit of resonating equally across all the global markets in which Edelweiss is launching. 

Capturing that, however, was not an easy process, Moller says, since no stock footage was used. So the production team used drones but also spent days in the Alps with the actors actually flying them over the terrain. 

Campaign strategy

Beyond the film, Moller says they want their launch campaign to have both long-term brand building and short-term impact in all of their new launch markets.  This involves using a mix of various channels from out-of-home to TV to social media to longer-form cuts for movie theatres according to what is appropriate in each market.  

In Singapore, for instance, they sent artistically designed Edelweiss packages to prominent influencers including beer, glasses but also the actual herbs that they could smell for themselves when they opened it up, which first created word-of-mouth buzz. 

Yet while the media mix shifts market-by-market, Moller says the main assets stay consistent: “The campaign is the same, the actors are the same and the vision is the same. That's because it is the global campaign of the brand, which we are very proud of.”

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