Global beer brand Heineken is celebrating the unsung heroes of football in its new ad campaign, "Cheers to the Real Hardcore Fans."
Heineken has partnered with Virgil van Dijk captain of the Netherlands national men’s team and current ambassador and former Lioness Jill Scott MBE “to celebrate the modern face of football fandom.”
“There’s a minority of football fans that can spoil the game for everyone else, giving “hardcore” fans a bad name, but those problematic few don’t represent the majority,” Nabil Nasser, global head of Heineken Brand, stated in a press release.
“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,” Nasser added.
The ad, helmed by Australian director Mark Molloy, humorously highlights the “crazy” passion of die-hard sports fans, wittily opening with a non-disclaimer, “Any resemblance to real persons or real events is not purely coincidental.”
A lawyer then reads a will, shocking the family that their father left everything to someone named Chelsea, who is later revealed to be a pet.
A GenZ-er, a mother, and a priest are then shown calling their dog, son, and parishioners by the names of famous footballers: Virgil, Thierry, Totti, Lautaro, Marcus, Denzel, and Romelu.
A dad introduces his twin daughters as “Mara” and “Donna.” A woman says “I do” to Ronaldinho. A man is woken up by his dog Virgil.
Naming their pets, sons, and daughters — and even watching a football game on their wedding day (apparently, 5% of fans do this) — are just some of the “extreme” things “real hardcore fans” do.
And of course, van Dijk and Scott make an appearance, with a waitress quickly keeping Virgil’s signed receipt for herself, while a bride and groom could only stare in awe as Scott grabs a Heineken from the bar.
In a separate video, van Dijk and Scott validated that some fans are indeed “obsessed, crazy, and extreme” based on what they did.
At the end of both videos, the “real hardcore fans” are actually shown, with one even showing off her identity card revealing how she was named after a former England striker.
Heineken aims to promote inclusivity with the campaign, including a contest in which fans can share their hardcore stories for a chance to win seats at the UEFA Champions League Final.
“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,” van Dijk said.
“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,” Scott concluded.