Heineken ad draws online ire over vaccination promotion

Ad urging people to join vaccinated seniors prompts calls to boycott brand

Heineken, the world’s second-largest beermaker, joins companies implementing ad campaigns and corporate policies to promote inoculation. Photograph: iStock

Heineken, the world’s second-largest beermaker, joins companies implementing ad campaigns and corporate policies to promote inoculation. Photograph: iStock

 

Heineken ran a minute-long ad on social media on Thursday showing senior citizens dancing in a nightclub and racing to skinny-dip at a nearby beach. It ended with the message, “The night belongs to the vaccinated. Time to join them.”

By Friday, bands of aggrieved users on Twitter were threatening to #BoycottHeineken. Some uploaded videos of themselves opening bottles of the brewer’s namesake lager and pouring it down their kitchen sinks in protest.

The ad “celebrates a group of vaccinated seniors who are able to safely get back out to enjoy bars and clubs and socialise again – something we’re all looking forward to,” a Heineken spokesman said in a statement.

The world’s second-largest beermaker joins companies implementing ad campaigns and corporate policies to promote inoculation. Top executives are increasingly positioning themselves at the forefront of fighting anti-vaccine sentiment, which is marked in countries such as the US, UK, France and Russia. It also poses a singular risk to the business models of brands built on social interaction in bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

Budweiser beer, owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, decided not to run a commercial during the Super Bowl in February for the first time in 40 years and instead allocated that spending to the Ad Council’s pro-vaccination campaigns. Immunisations would “liberate people”, former chief executive Carlos Brito said at the time.

Unilever chief executive Alan Jope has said he’s signing weekly letters to the company’s 150,000 employees urging them to get vaccinated when possible, and has invited the company’s doctor to promote inoculation on twice-monthly virtual town halls. – Bloomberg