Heineken's "World Apart" and Corporate Sociopathy

Watching the recent Heineken ad I was instantly reminded of when Donald Trump told Caitlyn Jenner she could use any bathroom she liked at Trump Tower. Then I realized it was nowhere near that dignified. The ad is apparently working quite spectacularly. It's a successful ad, in that it made more people feel positively toward the Heineken brand without undermining the company's bottom line. That is its job. To artistically convey a message. Much like propaganda. When propaganda truly has warmed your heart, you know you've been had.

If you think I'm cynical, consider how cynical this ad is.

What actual substantive discussion did we even see the climate change guys engage in? Do you think this is an accident?

How plausible is it that the cause of the sudden(ly visible) political polarization in the present moment honestly can be explained by reference to questions of gender, gender identity and opinions on climate change? How plausible is it that the good people of Heineken or Publicis London think that?

Heineken claimed in a tweet that these are not actors, and that what we see is not staged. Despite the fact that people do seem to have been rather selectively "cast" for their roles in this experiment, it hasn't been staged or scripted. It's simply been directed and edited.

Toby Dye, who directed the commercial for Publicis London, also directed a vile commercial for Persil, a laundry detergent, in which he told prison inmates that they spent more time outside than the average child and filmed their reactions, and then featured a prison guard telling the audience that if kids aren't filthy with dirt and in need of a bath, they haven't played outside hard enough. The man's editing and direction were able to make it look like incarcerated prisoners thought that kids growing up at home had it better than they did behind bars.

Consider moreover some of the things these people you see in the ad probably already agreed on, but which Heineken would never dare allow to be aired in a commercial. For example, a majority of Britons believe that big business and wealthy donors have too much influence on government and politics. I dare any beer company to show beer drinkers of different walks of life agreeing — as in reality they often do — on that point.

What else might these people actually have in common? For one, they were all part of a social experiment whose purpose they did not understand. Presumably they were paid to participate. In other words, if anything actually binds these people together is that they have to work for a living, and really could use the money.

Finally: just how many pairs of people do you suppose Toby Dye actually had to film before he got a handful that could serve as beer ad posterchildren in ways that played to all the right demographics' sensibilities without actually saying anything dangerously substantive?

Publicis London's slogan of “You have to lead the change, if you don’t want to be led by change” sounds rather unintentionally sinister in this light.

If you wonder what the full unedited substance of these people's conversations was, too bad. As like as not, they probably were made at some point to sign away the rights to publicly disclose any of it.

It's true. Heineken is indeed Socially Aware. This ad proves it. All the social awareness of a highly successful sociopath.

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