Heineken’s “Men With Talent” Role Reversal.

Poking fun at the countless “reality” talent television shows such as America’s Got Talent, the Heineken, “Men with Talent” commercial utilizes a parody approach to highlight aspects of their beer.  Simultaneously, Heineken plays on gender stereotypes and uses role reversal to create a memorable ad.  Initially, the first words on the screen have nothing to do with beer “Top Models Singing On Ice,” a program which attracts the women.  On the other hand, as “Men With Talent” begins, the men in the room are as excited as the women were for their programming.  Although, this programming shows talents men would enjoy performing and watching such as beer juggling, beer tossing, and performing beer flute tunes, there is a play on role reversal and subliminal jab presented: are men not talented?

On the surface this ad is direct to the point: Heineken allows men to have talent and a good time.  Simultaneously, the use of intertexuality, polysemy, connotations associated with this particular type of programming, gender ideologies and reversal, collectively form a creative advertisement.  Outright the denotative meaning is beer, its connotation is that Heineken could give men talent to perform better.  Thus, men could potentially become just as interested in this type of television programming which is intended for women.  This play on the ideology that men should not be interested in this sort of programming unless it had beer and men performing “tricks,” for treats perpetuates what is already perceived amongst a drinking culture.  Many individuals, at one point or another (especially while intoxicated) attempt to perform tricks, Heineken sets up a place where it is acceptable for men to perform them on a stage.  Drinking, generally speaking, is often associated with having a good time, socializing, and being care free but when one consumes Heineken, one could be as talented as the men depicted on the television show.  This ideology sets up for an imaginary world where men are the stars of reality talent shows and women are the uninterested subjects, reversing the normative behavior.

Stemming from the crux of the creative revolution of the 1960s, also depicted in season 2 episode 8 of Mad Men, Heineken is looking to establish a market in the United States and aims to revamp its advertising style.  Today, Heineken’s contemporary marketing tactics are what set it apart of some of its competitors such as Miller, Budweiser, or Dos Equis.  Retrospectively, as a result of the creative revolution consumers are not only looking to be entertained by advertisements but ultimately learn about the brand itself.  In Art Copy, one of the content producers believes “The worst thing you can do with an ad is treat people like their dumb, I hate dumb advertising.”  In reference to beer ads, don’t most of them fall into this category due to the connotation of drinking beer in general?  What Heineken signifies is a type of comfort much like Miller and Budweiser because it is an established brand.  Let’s face it, the typical person who orders a Heineken at the bar is not a beer connoisseur.  This is one of the ways this particular advertisement functions to let the consumer know what Heineken is ultimately about, a good time.

After analyzing several contemporary Heineken ads there seems to be a recurring theme: in a perfect world, everyone would be having a good time while drinking a Heineken.  As an established brand Heineken knows there has to be creative content and by using intertexuality (parody on reality programming) it is a way to remain current.  This allows Heineken to remain current with younger generations while not conforming to its competitor’s ideals, reversing gender roles, and relying on parody in order to to make the advertisement memorable.




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