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Uniting Differences
Communicate openly to bridge that generation gap, says Heineken in its latest ad campaign

Somdyuti Datta Ray

You would rather be a musician, but your parents want you to be a doctor; or perhaps you’re a lawyer by profession, when in fact, you would rather be a dancer. These stories are as real as they can get: career ambition versus your parents’ wishes, pursuit of your true passion versus settling for social norms. It’s often quite a struggle for people on both ends of a generation gap to discuss these issues. However, Dutch brewery, Heineken, has attempted to address this conundrum most youngsters encounter in its first-ever campaign for the Indian market, called ‘Generations Apart’.

Quite like Heineken’s global campaign-meets-social experiment ‘Open Your World’, that brought together contrasting characters on one platform to talk aboud their issues, the Indian version also took the unconventional route to advertising. In this case, the brand arranged for several youngsters accompanied by their parents to attend a stand-up comic act over a bottle of Heineken.

Samar Singh Sheikhawat, CMO, United Breweries, says, “Heineken is one of our fastest growing beer brands, but our ambition is to grow even faster. In India, we wanted to take on something that is deep-rooted – the invisible social barrier. One of the burning issues that several generations across in this country have experienced is, career choices and expectations. Parents believe that they’re open-minded but children don’t believe so.”

The audience was not informed of the event itinerary, and the whole three-minute video was unscripted (apart from the comic act). Bobby Pawar, MD, Publicis India, elaborates, “We realised that the stand-up comedy would be a great way to address the barriers that people or generations have between them. Humour takes the edge off it and comedy always provokes you to think differently. So, we went about finding a comedian who has also been through the same experience, in an attempt to keep things authentic.”

Of course, one might say that the Heineken campaign is in a way similar to the Nescafe ad film that portrayed a stammering stand-up comedian overcoming his social anxiety thanks to the beverage being promoted. But as Pawar points out, “Both the campaigns deal with different issues, and Nescafe’s was an ad and this is anything but.” A bottle of beer may not solve your problem, as Sheikhawat clarifies. But when it comes to something like a career choice, will an honest sit-down conversation help? Possibly. “Maybe you will see the other person’s point of view, and come to an agreement; or maybe you’ll agree to disagree,” he says. So, the next time you want to break down the communication barriers at home, you know what to do.

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