Heineken links with Facebook in digital drive

LONDON Wed Dec 7, 2011 2:39pm EST

The Facebook logo is displayed on a computer screen in Brussels April 21, 2010.  REUTERS/Thierry Roge

The Facebook logo is displayed on a computer screen in Brussels April 21, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Thierry Roge

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LONDON (Reuters) - Brewing giant Heineken is linking with social networking website Facebook to boost its global digital marketing, with the first fruits of the partnership being an online campaign aimed at making responsible drinking cool.

The Amsterdam-based brewer, which claims it is the No 1 alcoholic drinks group on Facebook with over 4.6 million global fans, announced a partnership on Wednesday which will see Facebook advising it on using the world's largest social network with over 800 million global users.

Heineken's Chief Commercial Officer Alexis Nasard told Reuters the group was paying a "consequential" amount for the deal, which will include Facebook consulting and training Heineken people to use the network as well as giving the brewer priority to Facebook's new products and advantageous pricing.

The brewer of Amstel, Sol, non-alcoholic Buckler as well as Heineken beers is now preparing to launch a new digital campaign next Monday promoting responsible drinking at a time when the drinks industry faces mounting criticism over alcohol abuse.

"The challenge is to make the message of responsible drinking cool as opposed to patronizing, and also to try and make non-alcoholic drinks cool," said Nasard.

He added that with beer drinkers spending more time online, it is important for its brands to have a digital presence, and 7 percent of the group's marketing budget is already spent on digital content, one of the highest in the consumer goods world.

Heineken is the world's third-largest brewer and No 1 in Europe, and earns around 35 percents of its profits from western Europe where it is the biggest brewer in Britain, Italy and Greece and No 2 in France, Spain and Ireland.

(Reporting by David Jones; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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