Changing Channels: How a Unique Approach to Advertising Supports a Struggling Sector

What banking can learn from Heineken’s reimagined advertising strategy and redistributed dollars for out-of-home campaigns

As one of the hardest-hit sectors economically, the bar industry has struggled over the last 18+ months as safety and social distancing requirements remain steady. When bar locations close their doors, they are shuttered, causing economic hardship for small business owners. But one global beer brand decided to step up to help and soon after had others joining the party. With their new advertising program, Heineken’s Shutter Ads turned bars’ closed shutters into a new media channel and revenue source for economically strained public houses around the world, redistributing a portion of its substantial media budget to directly support struggling bars.

“Part of the brand’s global #SocialiseResponsibly campaign, Shutters reimagined out-of-home advertising to help more than 5,000 bars around the world survive and re-open,” according to trade publication Ads of Brands that highlights advertising’s best campaigns. “A natural evolution from the brand’s successful Back to the Bars campaign that supported outlets forced to close throughout 2020, Shutters saw Heineken redirect some of its investment in outdoor advertising (which accounts for 10% of its global media budget) to support its on-trade partners affected by the Covid-19 closures.”

The campaign delivered an astonishing 40% more in media value than traditional out-of-home (OOH) for Heineken. But even more importantly, it redistributed €7.5 million to participating bars – a needed economic infusion right at the time bars needed it most – and 100% of bars in the initiative reopened. “We are incredibly proud [of our]… meaningful response to the unprecedented challenges our local on-trade partners have faced during the pandemic,” according to Bram Westenbrink, Global Head of Brand for Heineken. “Bars are one of our biggest partners, so we are delighted to have found a way to support them, even when they were forced to close their shutters.”

Winner of the Grand Prix and a Silver Lion at Cannes Lions and accolades across the brand and advertising industry, the campaign generated powerful awareness and support for bar owners around the world. It also caught the eye of competitors like Amstel who joined in on the approach to give even more ways to #BackTheBars. 

Living out the power of purpose, Heineken leveraged their brand heft for the good of their industry – something banks and credit unions can also do when they embrace a purpose-driven approach to doing business. For more insights on unique ways to approach advertising and marketing in unprecedented times, stay tuned to Believe in Banking as it tracks the big trends that are impacting financial services or contact us at

Photo Credit: Heineken, June 24, 2021