Posts tagged ‘beer’

April 30, 2017

#127) Drinking problems: Why “Worlds Apart” won’t get me to buy Heineken

There are two reasons why Heineken’s new “Worlds Apart” ad won’t make me buy the beer.

The short reason: I don’t like Heineken. No matter how artfully an advertisement’s visual look is curated, how lovingly its message is crafted or how on fleek its hashtags are, if I don’t like the product, I’m not spending money on it.

The long reason: call me a hater, but Heineken takes the easy approach with “Worlds Apart.” You’ve heard the old adage “No one ever got fired for buying IBM.” Well, no one ever got criticized (at least by the media, the entertainment industry and other People Whose Opinions Matter) for touting diversity. No one ever got fired for joining the fist-shaking mob chasing down someone or something that has been publicly offensive: John Rocker, Larry Craig, Todd Akin and most recently Pepsi and their controversial ad.

Indeed, “Worlds Apart” has been hailed as the antidote to Pepsi’s reviled campaign that featured Kendall Jenner as a saint who instantly creates world peace by giving a police officer a Pepsi in the middle of a giant protest. By contrast, “Worlds Apart” is hitting all the right notes. An anti-trans man meets a trans soldier. A climate change denier meets an activist. A feminist meets a man who feels that feminism is all about man hating. Without knowing that they hold opposite views, these pairs of people get to know each other. After they build a bar together in a warehouse, they learn of each others’ contrasting opinions. They are then given the choice of walking out or discussing their differences at the bar over a Heineken. (Spoiler alert…)

Unity. Diversity. Beer. What’s not to like?

Perhaps if I felt marginalized the way some of the people in the commercial do, I might have an entirely different perspective, but my questions are:

  • Is it the job of a beer (or any other food or beverage product) to teach me about diversity or is its job just to taste good?
  • Has the “I used to hate _____s but now that I’ve met one, I don’t hate them anymore” trope perhaps run its course?
  • Are there sometimes when it’s best to just politely walk away from a discussion you would prefer not to have?
  • Does this commercial expect people with more “acceptable” views to rethink their positions too?
  • Doesn’t Heineken’s response to the Pepsi backlash feel like a perfect sibling volunteering to teach a kombucha making workshop at the prison where the family black sheep is doing time for soliciting an undercover cop posing as a 14 year old boy online? At least a little bit?

Granted, part of advertising is to convince the target audience that purchasing the product will make them feel a certain way – inclusive, tolerant, conscientious –  but, and I say this as someone who has quaffed an ale or two in his time, at the end of the day it’s just beer.

I do believe that “Worlds Apart” is coming from a good place. I think it was made by honest people who care about the issues – yes, they are trying to sell beer, but I also think they want to promote civilized debate and discussion – and want to create something positive in the wake of Pepsi. I’m just not quite ready to jump on the Heineken as Heroes bandwagon.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Heineken does hold a special place in my heart that no other brand – not even any IPA – can claim, but it goes back to something that happened when Kendall Jenner was a twinkle in Bruce/Caitlyn’s eye. My wife visited Amsterdam when she was in her early 20s, took the Heineken brewery tour, did what people do on such a thing and then became the only person I’ve ever known to go to the Anne Frank house while intoxicated. If that doesn’t prove that we’re meant to be together, nothing does.

But I digress.

And I still don’t like beer.

June 11, 2015

#94) Loving the hater: an open letter to the Thrillist’s Dave Infante


Dear Dave,

First of all, nice job on the name.

Second, a little more explanation: having recently turned twenty-one and noting the world’s desperate shortage of over-wrought musings on hitting an age-related milestone, my original plan was to write a post in which I would share my deep wisdom with my eager fan base a la Lena Dunham. That said, I have been known to be easily distracted and when [squirrel!] I came across your article on why you hate IPAs, I decided to respond.

A little over five years ago, three letters changed my life: I, P and A. Having cut my teeth on heavier beers such as Sam Adams, Guinness, Bass and Newcastle, I found that the presence of hops and other citrus-type flavors in India Pale Ales, ingredients that originally were designed to keep beer pure on its long journey from England to India where it served as rations for soldiers, gave them body without the heaviness of the aforementioned labels. I’ve probably tried over 100 different IPAs and am always looking forward to my next one. Each has its own character; some try too hard and some don’t try had enough; some taste too much like Pilsners but I drink every glass to the last drop; it feels fundamentally wrong to let even a milliliter of the stuff go to waste.

That said, I’m here to tell you that it’s OK to hate. You’re entitled to your opinion and while I may be on the popular side of this one, more often than not I’m left shaking my head about why folks seem to flock to something [cough Stella Artois cough] whose appeal I couldn’t see if my life depended on it. In other words: though we come down on different sides on the IPA issue, I feel your pain.

You don’t just hate the beverage itself; you hate the attitude of those who drink it. Mustachioed home brewers who until recently had no idea what an IPA was are trying to shove their latest creation down your throat; you can’t spend two minutes online without stumbling on someone’s IPA blog; your favorite dive bar now has Green Flash, Point the Way and Stone Ruination instead of Mickey’s and the local liquor store has a big vinyl banner reading “We Sell Craft Beer” pinned up above the prostitute passed out in the doorway.

For my part, it does feel a little weird to see people jumping on the IPA train. The beer’s rise in popularity has led to a saturation of the market and in some ways I miss when it was niche. Yes, it’s fun to geek out about ABV and IBUs, but I can’t help feeling as if most of these folks will move onto something even more millennial when they get the chance.

Yet in a way that could be a source of comfort for you. In the immortal words of Tower of Power, what is hip today might become passe. Whether it does, there’s nothing wrong with you for not liking IPAs, just like there’s nothing wrong with me for not watching “Mad Men”, not listening to John Legend and not reading “50 Shades of Gray” or “Twilight.” The fact that I’m on the popular side of the IPA conversation is pure luck.