The tagline came from a eureka moment to a sleeping Lovelock at 3 AM in the morning who was under tremendous pressure.
Two members of Collett Dickenson Pearce (CDP)’s creative team, copywriter Terry Lovelock and art director Vernon Howe, were tasked with creating a new image for the Dutch beverage Heineken. Instead of the usual long brief, managing director Frank Lowe handed them a yellow card with one phrase on it. “That was the nearest I ever came to suicide,” Lovelock recalls. “Normally you get a brief that’s a few pages of information, but on this occasion, all we got was a piece of yellow card that said ‘refreshment’. ”
Research had shown that ale drinkers preferred flavour and lager drinkers refreshment and for them, the taste was not important. There were many lagers and they were largely focussed on the country of origin as a differentiator.
In his typical frank approach, Lowe warned him as he entered the office lift, “Come back with a campaign concept or don’t come back at all.” “Frank had unleashed his disembowelling knife,” Lovelock added. “After about six weeks, I was ready to fling myself out the window because I couldn’t think of anything original to say.”
While shooting a commercial for Ford cars in Morocco at the time, Lovelock accompanied art director Howe to Marrakesh, looking for inspiration in the sun. At 3 a.m., he leapt from his bed at the five-star La Mamounia hotel and scribbled two lines. “Heineken refreshes everything” and “Heineken refreshes the parts that other beers can’t reach.” His favourite was the second one. By breakfast, he’d penned the script for the campaign’s first ad, “Policemen’s Feet,” while lounging by the hotel pool.
Lowe’s reaction was typically undemonstrative. “When I handed Frank the scripts, he replied, ‘Oh, they’ll buy this,'” Lovelock continues. “I thought that’s about as positive a reaction as you’ll get.
Anthony Simonds Goodings, the CEO of Heineken, was becoming concerned because CDP was taking so long. Anyway, he was going to visit the Impressionists in the Hermitage in Leningrad with other CDP clients.
Lowe revealed Lovelock’s idea in the aircraft much to Simonds Gooding’s surprise. Such presentations are usually accompanied by a lot of fanfare from the agency. “I grabbed an airport sick bag and scribbled on it “Heineken refreshes the parts other beers can’t reach,” Sir Frank explained. Simonds-Gooding was impressed.
The idea was polished and shown to Freddie Heineken and the board who approved it
However, market research revealed that the commercials were unlikely to increase Heineken awareness and interest in consuming it. As it was not proper beer advertising.
Both Lowe and Simonds-Gooding failed to ignore the research partially. There was a hidden agenda at work here. They’d persuaded everyone and started working on the film’s budget and other aspects. They planned on shooting three commercials. It would be a public embarrassment to return. Fortunately, one of the commercial ideas performed poorly in the study compared to the other two, so it was eliminated.
The other two were filmed
And it helped to shift the drinking public in the United Kingdom away from warm ale, resulting in a hundredfold increase in Dutch lager sales.