How Heineken reached the parts other lagers couldn’t reach

Some of the best lager advertising ever was the product of one of the UK’s best copywriters – who without an idea in his head fled the country with one word and the threat of a firing if he didn’t come back with a campaign.

The lager was Heineken, the copywriter was Terry Lovelock.  Lovelock was one of the leading copywriters at the CDP Agency and was given the challenging task of creating a TV campaign to sell Dutch  lager to bitter-drinking Britons. His brief, normally pages and pages of background on the market, consumers, competitors and product positioning, consisted of just one word – Refreshment.

At the time, the early 70s, lager had grown rapidly from the early 60s to reach around 10% of the total beer market. But it wasn’t what you might call mass market. It was still a bit special – fashionable, exclusive. In the US the slogan was ” if you run out of champagne, order Heineken”. Hardly refreshment.

Lovelock and his art director Vernon Howe stared at his word for eight weeks without the shred of a reasonable idea between them. The rest of the office began to pop by just to see how it was going. But it wasn’t. In desperation, Lovelock decided to try new surroundings and grabbed the agency car and driver and headed for  Marrakesh. On his way to Heathrow Airport the voice of Frank Lowe, the equally legendary head of the agency came over the intercom and told Lovelock to come back with a campaign or don’t come back at all.

Lovelock was now desperate. He walked around Morocco with pen and paper in hand searching for the idea. Lovelock said that, “At the back of my mind, there was a thought that if booze causes some strange metamorphoses, it must be possible to explain its effects ion the body in a fun way”.  One evening Terry went to be around midnight, notepad nearby. At 3am he woke from a dreamless sleep and sat upright. He grabbed the notepad and wrote two lines. ‘Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach’ and Heineken is now refreshing all parts’. This is exactly what happened. He blamed it on a mixture of desperation and mental incubation. The following morning he wrote two scripts, one including a Charleston dance competition where the knees weren’t working due to lack of refreshment.

Source: Inside CDP

He came back with several scripts including the first to be filmed  – policemen being refreshed after a hard day on their beat that became a UK advertising classic. And not only in TV ads, in print ads as well, for nearly thirty years.

The ad, like many of the others, featured the voice over of Dane Victor Borge. A Dane advertising a Dutch lager? Why not Carlsberg? Well, that’s another story…


About Andrew

Former Grocer journalist and Carlsberg PR, turning lager historian
This entry was posted in Advertising, Brands, Heineken, Imported lager, Lager and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How Heineken reached the parts other lagers couldn’t reach

  1. David Hughes says:

    Saw your piece in the 26 newsletter and couldn’t resist the urge to click on the link. You’ve chosen a great clip from the long running Heineken campaign. There’s more in a similar vein from Vernon Howe, Terry Lovelock and others over at a collection that’s been posted in the run up to the agency’s 50th anniversary on the 15th April this year. Aside from Heineken there are also spots for Kestrel (outback) and McEwan’s (Escher). Worth a look.

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