#BoycottHeineken Trends After Brewer Celebrates Vaccines

Heineken NV ran a minute-long ad on social media Thursday showing senior citizens dancing in a nightclub and racing to take a dip at a nearby beach. It ended with the message, “The night belongs to the vaccinated. Time to join them.”

By Friday, bands of aggrieved users on Twitter were threatening to #BoycottHeineken. Some uploaded videos of themselves opening bottles of the brewer’s namesake lager and pouring it down their kitchen sinks in protest. Others described the ad as pro-vaccination propaganda.

The ad is “all about supporting the hospitality industry and getting back to the bars and restaurants safely so we can all be together again,” a Heineken spokesman said in a statement. Last year, Heineken, which has a sizeable pub estate in the U.K., offered vouchers during lockdowns that drinkers could redeem for pints when bars reopened.

The world’s second-largest beermaker joins companies implementing ad campaigns and corporate policies to promote inoculation. Top executives are increasingly positioning themselves at the forefront of fighting anti-vaccine sentiment, which is marked in countries such as the U.S., France and Russia. It also poses a singular risk to the business models of brands built on social interaction in bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

Budweiser beer, owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, decided not to run a commercial during the Super Bowl in February for the first time in 40 years and instead allocated that spending to the Ad Council’s pro-vaccination campaigns. Immunizations will “liberate people,” former Chief Executive Officer Carlos Brito said at the time.

Unilever Plc CEO Alan Jope has said he’s signing weekly letters to the company’s 150,000 employees urging them to get vaccinated when possible, and has invited the company’s doctor to promote inoculation on twice-monthly virtual town halls.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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