Championing Canada’s Football Fandom with Heineken

Heineken x UCL

A crowded bar full of fans jumping in excitement with a green green filter

Our pals at Heineken are the official global sponsor of the UEFA Champions League (UCL), the world’s greatest club competition. To celebrate the 2024 season, they launched “Cheers to the Real Hardcore Fans,” a global campaign to promote inclusivity and highlight the unique diversity of football fans across the world.

When Heineken’s interest in a bespoke activation aimed at celebrating Canada’s UCL fans presented itself, we kicked off. As the campaign celebrates the unique dedication that traverses gender, age, race, culture and beyond, we knew that true football fandom (soccer, for the uninitiated) looks different everywhere. And Canadian fans experience their own unique barrier to enjoying the game, one that Heineken could address. 

In a sea of hockey, American football and basketball-lovers, Canada’s growing number of football fans still only make up a small minority of the popular sport landscape. For enthusiasts, finding like-minded people to share your love of football with is difficult, and being a fan can feel lonely. Especially for community-seekers who don’t fit the mold of the ‘stereotypical’ football fan.

So we set out to bring these real hardcore fans together, and reward them for their love of the game, with the ultimate Heineken UCL Finals party.

Faced with how to reach a diverse group who span nearly every demographic, we uncovered that our communication solution lay in the heart of the problem; when you’re into footy in Canada, it feels like you speak a totally different language, one that most don’t understand. 

So, the insight was simple: no matter who the hardcore fans are or what they look like, there’s one thing they all share; a love for UCL’s most exciting moments. Simply put, they speak football. And boy, do they love it.

Using references to the UCL’s most unforgettable matches, players, and storied history, we hid the secret location to Heineken’s UCL Finals party in our OOH, wild postings, social and digital ads. Turning our comms into interactive, football-coded trivia that fans were invited to solve in order to unlock the address to the ultimate Finals experience.

A poster explaining how to participate. Unlock the address to the Heineken UCL Finals party. A poster of Heineken beer bottle

But the party’s location wasn’t the only surprise. At the event, fans were greeted by retired TFC footballer and current Juventus coach, Sebastian Giovinco, who kicked off the party and enjoyed the match with fans.

The activation was a smash hit, packed with an excited crowd of fans. Attendees mingled, made new friends and found a buzzing community to enjoy the long-awaited moment with, coming together to raise a Heineken to their shared love of the league.

The work gained national attention in industry publications like Strategy, Campaign, and even made it onto Reddit’s local fan pages where users flocked to solve our clues and share answers.

The instructional poster for how to unlock the dress to the Heineken UCL Finals party in a vertical format