WHAT: “World’s Apart,” a new Heineken ad that involves some frank conversations between people with differing views.
WHO: Agency Publicis London
WHY WE CARE: Earlier this month, Pepsi tried to walk in step with the #Resistance and ended up falling on its face. Hard. The company’s tone-deaf ad–which used Black Lives Matter iconography and Kendall Jenner to suggest that carbonated beverages can heal America’s wounds–inspired such a seething backlash it was pulled almost instantly, and savagely parodied. It would’ve been a fine time for Coca-Cola to step up and deliver a perfectly calibrated topical ad, thereby eating Pepsi’s lunch. In truth, though, Coke had to do absolutely nothing to achieve the same result. Instead, Heineken has come along a couple weeks later with an ad that gets to the heart of political engagement in a straightforward way that makes Pepsi’s self-congratulatory ad seem even more embarrassing.
The main political problem in the post-Brexit UK, as well as post-Trump America, is the depth of our division. People with opposite views believe in their own opinions so vehemently, they’re convinced everyone on the other side is practically of a different species. Making matters worse, these people from opposing sides rarely get to meet each other outside of Twitter @-replies, which are among the most contentious places to be on the planet. In Heineken’s “Worlds Apart” experiment, complete strangers who have been selected for their political opinions, but not told what the experiment entails, are matched up and made to converse. The climate change denier meets face-to-face with the environmental doomsayer, and both are made to hear out their respective views. Other issues explored throughout the ad include feminism and transgender rights. This kind of heady material is impossible to fully explore in a meaningful way within the space of a beer commercial. However, encouraging actual dialogue is a thousand times more of a mature and responsible way to address our current international predicament than glamorizing, fetishizing, and whitewashing the protest movement.