Heineken has launched a new campaign in time for the UEFA knockout stages, building on the established ‘Fresher Football’ platform that aims to make football more inclusive.
The campaign kicks off with a global competition to find the world’s most dedicated ‘real hardcore’ football fans, with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the UEFA Champions League Final up for grabs.
The campaign has set its sights on refreshing what it really means to be a hardcore fan, reclaiming this badge of honour that has for too long been associated with negative behaviour in football.
“There’s a minority of football fans that can spoil the game for everyone else, giving ‘hardcore’ fans a bad name,” says Nabil Nasser, global head of Heineken Brand.
“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 really 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. The comedic and heartwarming film, inspired by real fans, shows the devotion people have to supporting the beautiful game.
Virgil van Dijk captain of the Netherlands national men’s team alongside existing ambassador Jill Scott, 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,” Scott said.
“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 van Dijk said: “The ‘Real Hardcore’ fans make me proud and appreciative as a player. I think reclaiming this phrase is important, the historic 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 emphasise 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 that share their stories with us. The winners will be provided with a once-in-a-lifetime final weekend experience.