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Heineken develops social tool @wherenext but shuns brand name to provide ‘more credibility’

Heineken has created a new social tool on Twitter as the next phase of its global Cities of The World campaign, which has seen the beer and cider brewer omit its own brand name to provide ‘more credibility’.

The @wherenext platform has been designed to help consumers “unlock the secrets of their city” by providing restaurant, café and bar suggestions based on their location. It uses a unique algorithm that listens to social media activity, such as tweets, check-ins and photos across Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare and analyses which locations are trending.

The user needs to tweet ‘@wherenext’ with their location and the service will respond with a variety of options and a link to a mobile-responsive website, containing reviews and images.

Paul Smailes, Heineken's global head of digital, told The Drum that the tool, which launches globally today (14 July), differs from other recent entertainment marketing pushes such as the ‘Dropped’ reality series that saw participants thrown into unexpected locations, and forms more of a utility.

“Yes, it’s a branded utility, but one of the key things we decided was that we didn’t want to do this on a Heineken handle,” he said. “We felt doing it on @wherenext provided more credibility for people to use it. What we found out from research was that there were varying degrees of credibility of trust for a brand to do it, people felt like, ‘Is this just going to be a Heineken bar finder service?’ We absolutely did not want to provide that kind of service or the perception that that was what we were doing.”

“It’s about providing real tangible value to consumers and certainly brands these days have a bigger uphill with consumers…people are getting more savvy about brands and marketing, so brands really need to change how we have that value exchange with consumers by providing something that has meaningful value to them.”

Smailes revealed that Heineken will however, create similar activity to the Dropped episodes with a global, live televised social experiment that will see real people in three cities challenged to uncover the best kept secrets against the clock. The idea is that @wherenext, developed with R/GA London, will continue as a long-term strategy, with Cities of the World serving as “strategic importance to us”.

Connected devices and geo-located technologies in the broader sense are set to provide a “massive opportunity” for the brand, and Smailes said  it is looking to use iBeacons to “reinvent” the bar or shopping experience for consumers.

He also hinted that Heineken would potentially be interested in technological advances that would help to tackle excessive drinking.

“We take responsible drinking very seriously and if you see the advances being made in biometrics you can see that shortly we may be able to tackle immoderate drinking in a much more innovative and cool way.

“Moving away from breathalysers that have been around for centuries and do something that is a lot more acceptable and make it more democratic amongst consumers.”

The beer brand has today (14 July) kicked off a six-month campaign with Metro as part of its 'Open Your City' marketing push, which similarly aims at getting consumers to explore their city. 

Featured by The Drum