Where the Heineken “Go Places” Employer Brand Campaign Went Wrong

Have you seen it, Heineken’s Go Places ad and website? If you haven’t watched this latest, buzz-worthy employer branding ad, click on the embedded video below. It’s definitely worth a minute of your time. Once you’ve watched, explore the Go Places website and enter “The Interview” door. You will quickly realize why AdWeek stated this is an “HR campaign that’s as cool as any consumer ads it’s done.”

Here’s our take on this slick, sexy campaign.

Disclosure: Heineken is not our client.

The video is smart, lyrical poetry. The website is engagingly informative. You can’t help but want to spend time on the site, continue through The Interview door and discover the result of your interview. This is a prime example of just how impactful great creative can be. It creates buzz, strengthens brand awareness, and provides insight and differentiation into the employment experience. And it’s obvious a lot of time, energy, brainpower and money brought this idea to life.

But what happens when an engaged candidate clicks the green Apply To Jobs Via Career Site button? “It is a shockingly different user experience,” shares Kathleen O’Brien, lead consultant and project manager at exaqueo. “One that will likely create a high drop off rate at the part that matters most—the ATS conversion.”

Pull through a consistent experience.

According to AdWeek, there were three agencies that had a hand in the work (and clearly a budget most HR teams dream of). And while they put a great deal of thought into the user experience, they didn’t quite think about the candidate experience: what happens after their target audience clicks for jobs. It’s a great example of front-end excitement followed by unaligned copy and imagery, a typical back-end ATS experience and honestly, some candidate frustration.

We all want to wow users and attract talent, but it can’t just be the window dressing. It has to follow through. And that’s where you come in.

“While this campaign is really well done, there’s an incredible lesson to be learned,” explains Shannon Smedstad, lead consultant and newest member of the exaqueo team. “Great creative is nothing without HR strategy behind it. Nothing without thinking about how it affects your ATS, your tools, your systems, and your candidate and employee experiences.”

Campaigns must connect to strategy.

As HR and employer brand leaders, you know your workforce better than anyone else—it’s your expertise. Your people are at the heart of what you do, day in and day out. So while it’s exciting to wow the user and think big, don’t forget your roots, your people. They’re not customers. They’re candidates, they’re employees. And choosing a job is just a more impactful life experience.

Honestly, this is why exaqueo exists—to connect the wow with the people. To help illuminate your expertise. To help consumer marketers understand HR. And vice versa. As you’re planning for 2017, think about the impact you can make—and let us know how we can help you ensure the power of the creative connects purposefully to your HR strategy.

Employer branding cannot be done by an agency or marketing or communications alone.

They need you.

Watch the Heineken Go Places ad below, experience the full site and then tell us what you think in the comments.


Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps companies build cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn how to better compete for talent by building honest, authentic employer brands and powerful talent attraction and retention programs.

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