Monday, May 9, 2011

This Heineken Commercial Shows Savvy Marketing And Racism

Do you watch TV? Good, that means that you have seen the latest Heineken commercial, because it is shown fifteen times every hour. I'm pretty sure it may have its own channel by now. For those of you who have been living under a rock (or the tired lie to make yourself seem important of "I'm too busy for TV"), here is the commercial in an extended form:

Chances are that you enjoy this commercial. I know I do, and that's in spite of me hating their beer. I mean, if I wanted to drink piss, I might as well drink my own, and I sure as hell wouldn't take the time to bottle it. But that has nothing to do with the topic at hand, because the taste of this beer never comes into question for our main character as he feels it is of the highest quality, but we'll get to that later.

The great thing that this commercial does is give you many different reasons to possibly like this commercial. You don't get to know any of the characters, but you feel like you know them in the 3-5 seconds that they are on screen. But let's learn more about the main character through his interactions in this commercial.
This first screenshot establishes the importance of the main character. He has a driver and photographers are outside to capture a picture of him. This guy isn't some schmuck; he's legit. But the real magic happens when he gets inside, as he deals with cliche stereotypes that show Heineken doesn't care one bit about progressive thinking.
I would say that this was the most shockingly racist things in the commercial for me. They show an African Prince which is rather progressive, but then they immediately go into a goofy handshake, you know, because he's a black guy. I would have rather seen a hug here and a goofy handshake with awkward white guy at the beginning, but they went cliche which is rather disappointing. He then interacts with more black guys, so they give each other a jumping high-five. But don't worry, these black guys aren't cliches...oh wait, they are basketball players. Of course they're basketball players; they're black. Since they use two guys, I would have preferred to see a black guy and a white guy. As long as they're both in headbands still, you get the point that these guys are legit players without being too simplistic about the presentation of it. But this exchange ends with the main character hitting a halfcourt shot on what appears to be a Rock n' Jock 25 foot hoop.
Hey, it's a middle eastern guy. So it only makes sense for him to appear dangerous and have ridiculous facial hair. That's what Middle Easterners do. I actually really like this racist portrayal of a Middle Eastener, because they play with expectations here. At first glance, he appears dangerous, but he's actually a really great guy who are main character embraces in a bro-hug to end all bro-hugs.
And then we have an Asian, so yes, he is obviously a martial artist. This is rather lazy, and the only thing is I wish they would have gone all out and given him a calculator shirt to show how great Asians are at math. Let's hope this Asian has math skills, as he gets owned in the ultimate test of martial artists, "And 1 Heineken Grabbing."

But I have saved the most interesting aspect of this commercial for last.
Sexuality. This woman's glance early on in the commercial establishes this man as a stud with the ladies, and being a stud with the ladies is totally badass (Trust me, I know). At least that is what I thought the first 20 times I watched this commercial, but then I noticed something very peculiar. By my count, he directly interacts with 14 different people. Twelve of them are males, two of them are females. He does not touch a single female throughout this commercial, and his most interesting interaction is this one.
His one chance to touch a female, and he uses a tablecloth to avoid any direct physical contact with her. This commercial is absolutely loaded with homosexual undertones.

Although you can make a strong case that this guy is a gay male, in all reality, this guy is who you want him to be. This guy shows throughout the commercial that he can pretty much be anything, so he can certainly be heterosexual if that makes you more comfortable or he can be homosexual if you would rather see him that way.

Personally, I like to imagine him as gay and being bullied as a youngster. He would spend hours playing the oboe, because it was the only way he could escape their hatred. Eventually the bullying became too much and he dove into martial arts. Not only did the martial arts help him defend himself, but he also used his newfound focus and determination to become an excellent outside shooter in basketball.

This Heineken commercial plays with the hot potato that is racism throughout. Sometimes it keeps the potato moving, and sometimes it gets burnt. But overall, this is a rather entertaining commercial that is packed with characters and quick exchanges. Now if I could only get that damn song out of my head.

-Joe

P.S. There's a lot of old links building up from my computer from my lack of writing last week, but let's ease into this with a fantastic Tumblr dedicated to Emo Juan Uribe.

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