Case Study: Andric for Heineken

Agency: Prodigious (Milan, Italy)

AD: Giuseppe Vescovi  CD: Luca Cinquepalmi  Art Buyer: Caterina Colessano

Client: Heineken (Amsterdam)

Project I: Global launch of the new H41 Beer

2 executions – bottle and glass  Location portion: Patagonia, Chile   Studio shoot: Milan, Italy

Project II: Global campaign focusing on creation of a new Heineken visual/photographic language

12 subjects/locations, 51 final execution.  Location portion: New York   Studio shoot: Milan, Italy

I’ve had the pleasure of working with the agency and team from Heineken on two global campaigns.  The first project was a year ago, for a new product H41 Wild Lager, that contains a natural enzyme, a rare “mother” yeast discovered in the deep forests of Patagonia.  The name H41 is derived from the latitude co-ordinate of the beech forest in Patagonia where this yeast was discovered. The H stands for Heineken®.

When the shoot was approved, I happened to be in Santiago Chile on a Pharma project.   I immediately thought, ok I’ve got to fly across the world… my assistant says, the deep forest happens to be an hour flight from here… and we were off!  We knew that we needed very large file sizes for very large images, so there was no way to use stock.  We landed deep in the beech forest on the pacific side of Patagonia in a secret German Village in Argentina.

I found the shot:   dense beech forest, considering what would be the best possible lighting for the bottles and glass, which were scheduled to be shot in a studio in Milan. The level of detail and quality required in an image for beer today is such that you really need to shoot things in the studio with maximum control because we’ve created a level of expectation, of perfection, that is now taken for granted by the audience.  We needed to photograph a real bottle, no CGI, authentic with natural lighting that makes the product glow.

We traveled to Milan to photograph the bottle and glass in studio.  Additive Studios did the post-production in London, which I supervised from Toronto.  The layouts are very detailed, and the ad is exceptional.

Due to the success of that campaign, Heineken and the Agency were interested in working with us again.  Heineken II introduced the launch of a new visual language. 12 locations, 51 executions.  Every brand needs to update its image while still staying within a language that’s known, because you want continuity, at the same time you want something contemporary and feels right today.

The background elements were photographed in NY, all the locations.  It was a two-day tech scout to know exactly the time of day for each location depending on natural light, and oftentimes magic hour.  All the locations were different moods from nightclubs, sunrise, sunset, racing, stadium… all with a distinctive sense of place and mood.

The ads will run for two to three years, as digital posters for billboards, cinemagraphs and more.  This needed to be considered for locations for flexibility.  Not only did I photograph the background, I also had to photograph the surroundings of the location of choice… what’s reflected in the front and sides of the bottle.  I shot 360 degrees of each location.

We built a set in Milan to get the feeling of the bottle being fully integrated into the landscape.  We had two projections through the bottle – to reflect what would naturally be seen in the bottles as if we were on location.  The lighting, contrast became a game of fine balance.  The studio shoot was all mood work, different moods with a sense of place.

Key components are continuity or brand look that we were creating, a new most contemporary visual language, an identifiable language that could adapt to new potential products in the future.  Given these parameters to recreate in the studio situation and have the ability to drop in new products into the background.

With a project of this scope you need to plan ahead, save time and money for the client and save unnecessary expenses.  Again, this was all straight photography no CGI.  They trusted us.

The biggest challenge was the “unexpected” on location… the unpredictable elements like weather or seeing a “better” shot or angle than the approved shot… you have to be capable of adapting and still remain on theme.

Heineken allows us to be creative, we know the limits and know how to work within constraints and how to make value out of that rather than something to complain about.  Heineken and the agency are quite trusting.

The success of a brand is really about imagery…it is not just an intuitive, subjective, mood-based, inspired thing… yes it is intuitive within your experience – the esthetic, working within constrained space but something more than that…

In photography, everything is of importance like a painting in terms that every brush stroke is necessary and informs the background, sets the mood and that everything there, each brushstroke, is somehow useful and necessary and makes the image –  and without it would be less or different.

Heineken is an adaptive brand with a truly global market. I am honored to be part of creating imagery that engages and entertains their fans.