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Heineken Created The Ad Pepsi Wishes It Had

This is what happens when beverages try to be woke

Remember when Pepsi created the most tone-deaf ad of all time? Yeah, so does Heineken. Last week, the beer company released an ad that seems to wink at Pepsi’s weak attempt to seem relevant, while also making a case for its own relevancy in these divisive times. Called “Worlds Apart,” the four-and-a-half-minute video follows pairs of strangers working together to build a table and chairs, and eventually a bar, in a somewhat eerie warehouse. In the process of building things Ikea-style, they get to know one another and become friendly—or at least as friendly as two strangers can be on camera in a warehouse.

In the course of the video, we watch a misogynist team up with a staunch feminist, a climate change denier talk it out with an environmental advocate, and a transphobic man get to know a transgender woman. Only, they don’t know the other holds strikingly different views until they watch previously taped clips of their partner spouting opinions. Once they discover their partner’s real personality, that’s where the beer comes in to smooth things over. Because, as the ad seems to suggest, divisive political issues can be calmly discussed when beer’s involved. (Obviously, consider context before you try this at your local watering hole.)

Reality issues aside, if this ad seems a lot better than Pepsi’s, it probably has more to do with the ad agency behind it than the “wokeness” of the brand itself. While Pepsi relies on in-house creatives to market its product, Heineken went with Agency Publicis London, a well-regarded firm. If there’s anything to be learned from these ads, it’s that consumers have become adept at telling the difference.

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