Matthew Miller
Jan 4, 2022

Son Heung-Min kicks off multi-market Tiger Beer campaign

Exclusive: The beer's global brand director explains why the Korean-born Tottenham Hotspur football star is the perfect ambassador for the ambitious 'Year of Your Tiger' campaign.

Son Heung-Min kicks off multi-market Tiger Beer campaign

Tiger Beer expects great things in 2022, so it's starting the year by kicking off a year-long, multi-market campaign in which Korean-born football star Son Heung-Min advises people to make the Year of the Tiger into the 'Year of Your Tiger'.

The beer's global brand director, Sean O'Donnell, speaking in an exclusive interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific, said 2022 is a big year for Tiger for two reasons. First, the brand is celebrating its 90th anniversary. And second, 2022 will literally be the Year of the Tiger once the lunar new year begins on February 1.

A new campaign under the brand's long-term 'Uncaged' platform seems especially fitting since many people have been 'supercaged' for parts of the last two years, O'Donnell observes.

"We wanted to make sure that we we launched at the start of the new year, where people are starting to make their resolutions for the year," O'Donnell says. "I think people are probably reflecting a lot on what's happened over the last 24 months and starting to think, 'What does my future hold?' And so we thought it was a perfect time to share what Tiger believes in and really try to inspire consumers to step forward and take that next step to chase their big dreams for next year."

The 'Year of Your Tiger' campaign launching today, which Son started teasing on his Instagram account yesterday, has been in the works for about a year, according to O'Donnell, who has been in charge of the Heineken-owned brand for about 18 months following a storied stint leading Heineken in New Zealand (where he oversaw the creation of both 'Brewtroleum' and 'I'm drinking it for you'). The campaign comes from 'Publicis One Team Tiger' in Singapore, with CCO for global clients Ajay Vikram in the creative lead. The film debuting today (below) was directed by The Sweet Shop’s Fausto Becatti. Archetype is in charge of PR and Dentsu International is handling media.

As 2022 begins, Son is leading the South Korea team into the World Cup, and he has been dropping apparent hints about his ambition to win a trophy for his home country.

In Son, O'Donnell believes Tiger has secured an ideal ambassador—one whose track record parallels the brand's own history. According to brand lore, back in 1932 when Tiger got its start in Singapore, expert brewers said quality beer simply couldn't be brewed in an equatorial climate.

"But our brewers defied the odds, and we liken that story to that of Son," O'Donnell says, citing the Tottenham Hotspur star's journey from Korea to the world's top leagues, where he is by statistics and general agreement the best Asian footballer in history (for example, he just won a Best Footballer in Asia prize for the fifth consecutive year). "I mean, there's been Asian footballers who have played in the top leagues in Europe before, but no one’s had the impact that Son has had," O'Donnell says. "He truly has transformed how football fans perceive Asian footballers."

The campaign will roll out in all Tiger's markets, starting with Asia, Oceania and Brazil, and it will run throughout the year.

“Our focus for Tiger is in Asia Pacific, but we're also growing outside of Asia Pacific," O'Donnell says. "We've got good growth in Africa and the Middle East, and we launched in 2021 into the Americas, in Brazil, which is one of the world biggest beer markets, and into Peru."

Football travels well into all these markets, and although Son has a global profile, the brand is also "looking to partner with other ambassadors, who we’re in negotiations with, across the rest of the year”, O'Donnell adds. "In all our key markets we'll also be partnering with local influencers to share their stories, so that we can take it from a global level to a local level."

When the brand launched the 'Uncaged' platform in 2010, O'Donnell says, the attitude was quite masculine in nature, with a focus on overt courage and challenging the status quo. Now the brand is tweaking the platform a bit, based on a lot of target-consumer research executed alongside Publicis.

"Our consumers are what we call the new progressives," O'Donnell says. "They are the 20- to 30-year-olds across Asia who have big ambitions, but currently feel like there are a number of barriers holding them back from being successful. That could be be financial, that could be family or tradition. That could be just fear of failure."

The 'Year of Your Tiger' campaign aims to take the brand from "talking the talk, to walking the walk", O'Donnell says.

From a creative perspective, the brand is looking to be "way more digitally focused" and will be offering up "a whole lot more" interactive, experiential activity, he says. For example, Tiger packaging will include QR codes for downloading and sharing content, and the brand will be more creative in its use of TV partnerships and out-of-home channels, he hints.

Sean O'Donnell

Though the target consumers in all of Tiger's key markets have much in common in terms of outlook, they also differ in many ways. A challenge of preparing such a wide-ranging campaign, O'Donnell says, has been crafting the message that both appeals universally and reads well in multiple cultures and languages. In keeping with its 'Power of One' philosophy, Publicis is activating experts across all of Tiger's markets to help deliver in locally relevant ways, O'Donnell says.

Will 2022 be as big a year for Tiger as it hopes? O'Donnell likes his chances.

"The majority of our competitors in our key markets are mainstream local beer brands, and they're thinking very locally," he says. "And also, if I'm honest, the creativity is just OK. We're one of the few beer brands that sits across a number of markets. We have this aspirational premium positioning. And our consumers are looking for more. So we have a great opportunity to connect with them. The brand’s already done that really well in a number of markets. So for me, the Year of the Tiger is coming at the perfect time. And from what we can see so far, even from Son just posting on his Instagram, the engagement has been significant, so it's super exciting.”


TIGER BEER, The Heineken Company

  • Sean O’Donnell - Global Brand Director, Tiger
  • Melissa Teoh - Global Marketing Manager, Communications & Digital
  • Willem van den Wijngaart - Global Marketing Manager, Market & Channel
  • Hannah Nottage - Global International Brands, Craft & Cider Communications Manager, Heineken company


  • Ajay Vikram - Chief Creative Officer, Global Clients Singapore
  • Henrique Zirpoli - Creative Director
  • Ivan Loos - Creative Director
  • Joaquim Laurel - Executive Creative Director
  • Rudy Zulkifly - Associate Creative Director
  • Diego Barboza - Associate Creative Director
  • Henrique Lamenha - Associate Creative Director
  • Breno Ribeiro - Senior Art Director
  • Daniel Tolentino - Senior Art Director
  • Shalom Wong - Senior Project Manager
  • Daniel Ho - Executive Producer
  • Jasmine Ho - Producer
  • Ed Booty - Chief Strategy Officer, Asia Pacific
  • Ali Rezgui - Global Strategy Lead
  • Laurent Thevenet - Head of Creative Technology, Asia Pacific & Middle East and Africa
  • Donatien Souriau - Executive Vice President, Global Clients
  • Angelina Tan - Business Director
  • Lins Khoo - Account Director
  • Vanessa Liu - Account Manager


  • Owen Waters - Deputy Managing Consultant
  • Brittany Lawrence - Account Director


  • JP Salustiano - Chief Strategy Officer


Production Company: Sweetshop
Director: Fausto Becatti
Executive Producer/Managing Director: Laura Geagea
Executive Producer: Penny Woo
Producer: Prim Viseshakul
Director of Photography: Julien Ramirez Hernan (Bangkok), Thomas Revington (London)
Production Designer: Suras Kardeeroj (Salem) (Bangkok), Theo Boswell (London)

Audio Post - Song Zu Singapore
Executive Producer - Donny Pereira

Music - Song Zu Singapore
Original Composition Composer - Adrian Sergovich
Sound Designer Engineer - Damian Waddell / Dione Tan

Post Production - Kraftw5rkz
Executive Producer - Bernard Tay
VFX Supervisor - Aik
Editorials - Yong & Timothy Tan
Online Flame Designer - Leong Beng Wee
Online Support - Liew Yew Herng
Colorist - Ben Conkey


Production company - Katapolt photographic management & production
Executive Producer - Adrian Appel
Producer - Becky Humm
Photographer / CGI Artist - Jean-Yves Lemoigne
Senior Print Producer - Jasmine Ho

Digital Imaging Artist - Luke Hutchings, Liam Connell

Campaign Asia

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