In the Doghouse

In the Doghouse: Heineken Targets Teens, Tweens with Snapchat

April 23, 2014  

Heineken Coachella Schedule

Branding youth in 10 seconds or less...

Heineken partnered with controversial social media app Snapchat to promote a branded online scavenger hunt at the recent Coachella music festival (also sponsored by Heineken), where the key audience for corporate sponsors and their brands was in their early 20s or younger. Coachella and its sponsors target teenagers; celebrity attendees such as Vanessa Hudgens and Katy Perry wear fashion "synonymous with spring style for young consumers," and Heineken logos were everywhere.

In its flagrant effort to gain Snapchat's overwhelmingly teenage audience, Heineken hides behind the laughable practice of age-gating, which asks users to answer that they are 21 or older before entering the site. A second-grader would have the requisite math skills to calculate and enter a valid birthdate.

The Heineken/Snapchat duo is one of the latest egregious examples of the farce that is alcohol advertising self-regulation in the U.S. As studies have consistently shown, industry self-regulation is ineffective. Without an independent, third-party review body, and enforcement power and significant penalties beyond requests to pull ads, youth overexposure to alcohol advertising continues.

Meanwhile, how many underage youth used a fake birthdate to play the Heineken Coachella scavenger hunt on Snapchat, while Big Beer and the industry trade associations pat themselves on the back?

gza hudgens2
"GZA destroying bros with his lyrics at the Heineken House,"
according to
Vanessa Hudgens, star of "High School Musical."