Campaign SpotlightPress Release

Heineken says ‘Cheers to the real hardcore fans,’ but they aren’t who you think

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS — Brewing company Heineken has kicked off the UEFA knockout stages with its new campaign building on the established “Fresher Football” platform that aims to make football more inclusive.

The brand has been working to level the playing field by campaigning to make the sport a more positive and welcoming space to enjoy football together. This new campaign has set its sights on refreshing what it means to be a hardcore fan, reclaiming this badge of honor that has been associated with negative behavior in football for too long.

“There’s a minority of football fans that can sp oil the game for everyone else, giving ‘hardcore’ fans a bad name,” said Nabil Nasser, Global Head of Heineken. “But those problematic few don’t represent the majority. Our new campaign is a witty twist on the ‘hardcore fan’ stereotype, showing instead what hardcore fandom looks like, celebrating the diverse group of people who truly live and breathe the sport in a positive, and sometimes quirky way.”


At the heart of the campaign is a film created by Australian Director Mark Molloy. It represents the true face of modern football fandom. The comedic and heartwarming film, inspired by real fans, shows people’s devotion to supporting the beautiful game.

“Heineken has once again taken a clear creative stance, stepping down from any brand self-celebration and focusing its commitment towards its extraordinary community. The campaign is an ode to realness, playfulness, and irreverent genius, yet an incredible opportunity to differentiate the creative point of view. Football, as seen through the lenses of its fans, shifts perspective and portrays a compelling and unexpected narrative. Hardcore fans are football’s key element, strong socializers, conversation enablers who honor the game with unconditional love and out-of-the-ordinary rituals and inventiveness,” said Bruno Bertelli, Global CEO of Le pub, Global CCO of Publicis Worldwide, and CCO of Publicis Groupe Italy.

Virgil van Dijk, Captain of the Netherlands national men’s team, alongside existing ambassador Jill Scott MBE, former Lioness, have joined forces on this next chapter in Heineken’s drive for inclusivity in football.

“I used to go to The Stadium of Light with my granddad almost every weekend without fail, come rain or shine,” said Jill. “But when you think about what a hardcore football fan looks like, most people don’t picture a teenage girl. That’s what I love about Heineken’s new campaign. It’s showing you what real football fans look like and playing on people’s expectations of who a real ‘hardcore’ fan is.”

Virgil said, “The ‘Real Hardcore’ fans make me proud and appreciative as a player. I think reclaiming this phrase is important, the historical negative connotations are something we need to remove from the game, no one is born a racist, I think the key things to make change are education and communicating with each other. I hope we can be part of that change; that’s why I’m glad Heineken is challenging the perception of what a real fan is to show there is a place for everyone in the game.”

To emphasize the message of supporting inclusive hardcore fandom, Heineken has set aside seats at the UEFA Champions League Final for a select few real hardcore fans who share their stories with us. The winners will be provided with a once-in-a-lifetime final weekend experience.

The campaign will be launched globally with a 90-second TVC, along with key visuals and video-pills published on Heineken and ambassadors’ social media channels.

To learn more about the competition and to get involved, visit the official website here. To learn more about how Heineken is helping to refresh football perspectives and foster a more positive and inclusive experience for all fans, click here.

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