Heineken jumps back on the dancehall train

November 08, 2017
A section of the crowd at the Reggae Sumfest Sound Clash earlier this year.


Dancehall-oriented events have come under scrutiny with corporate sponsors not seeing it as being marketable. But brands like Heineken have stepped up, to go against the grain and support the uniquely Jamaican genre.

Ten years ago, Heineken, among other brands, withdrew support from events highlighting the genre due to the violent and anti-social lyrics heard throughout the music of popular artistes. The company has revisited its marketing strategy to meet promoters halfway.

Heineken's assistant brand manager, Omar Dattadeen, noted that "Music is part of our brand strategy, and we cannot neglect that it is one of the biggest influences as dancehall music is the most relevant form to Jamaicans."

The brand has sponsored events such as Yesterday, Yush, and Startime in the past, and more recently partnered with Portmore Society during the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour.

"Strategy wise, music is always in our DNA, and there is no denying it. Heineken is working along with the promoters of said events, who will then communicate with live performers. We have also included Heineken's marketing code that acts as a guideline to any given performer," he said.

The company recently launched the Heineken Star Boy 250ml bottle, which holds 80ml less than the original size, and has a recommended bar price of $180.




According to Heineken, the new bottle image combines aspects of the dancehall identity, and a vision for the future with a passion to let its consumers thrive.

"We are targeting the community audience; and the Star Boy will only be available at local wholesalers and bars as we want to make the distinction," Dattadeen said.

The Heineken Star Boy is reflective of the company's goal to expand into community events and create long-standing commitment to building customer and partner relationships.

The product has been placed in more than 200 bars islandwide, and in support of the launch, happy hours on a Friday within these bars offer the three-star deal. This means that three Heineken Star Boys will be sold for $500.

In addition to supporting the dancehall genre, the international brand has hired local producer Jordan McClure of Chimney Records to make the brand's newest campaign uniquely Jamaican by remixing his 'Star Boy' rhythm for the promotion.

"The brand wants to offer assistance to local talent within the genre to add to our efforts to be a corporate company that is supportive of that aspect of our heritage," Dattadeen said.

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