Work — Making the Champions League unmissable

Heineken says "No excuses, mate!"

At a

The UEFA Champions League is one of the most watched sporting events in the world and Heineken is hugely appreciated and well known as a main sponsor. But while everyone knows that football, friends and beer go together, more and more people watch the games alone at home.

Our mission was to get fans with inexcusable reasons for not watching to “champion the match”, meaning to watch it with friends and a fridge full of Heineken.  To do so we chose an unreachable coach, José Mourinho, and created a direct line of communication between him and fans. Mourinho pep-talked Champions League fans in real time at key moments in the competition.

What happened

of the target audience was reached by this campaign
total video views
video completion rate
Project Details
Social campaign
Branded content
Video content
Content strategy
Social communications
chatbot development
Launch Date
February 2017

The Challenge

As a leading sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, Heineken counts match nights as the best time for fans and beer to come together. But when most matches take place in the middle of the week, it can be difficult to get together and enjoy the game.

Football fans end up making lame excuses like “I’m working late”, “The weather is bad”, “It’s Valentine’s Day” or “There’s heavy traffic” and leave their friends hanging on a night meant for friendship and beer. We needed to find a way to motivate them to ditch whatever they're up to and enjoy match night like true champions, which, of course, means surrounded by friends and a fridge full of Heineken.

Our Approach

The main challenge we faced was EVERYBODY was watching the UEFA Champions League. Men, women, all ages, everywhere. Research showed that their excuses for missing match nights differed depending on their time zone, local context and personal circumstances.

We also discovered that when they committed to watching a game, it was before the match night and often organised with friends on messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. It became clear that a one-size-fits-all approach wouldn't work. Motivation works best when it's personal, relevant and useful to your context and needs. Our approach would have to be the same: use tailored and targeted videos that made fans feel like Heineken was motivating them personally and extend this to one-to-one conversation to Facebook Messenger throughout the tournament.

What we did

Getting football fans' attention is not easy, so we called on one of the greatest coaches of all time, José Mourinho. His confidence and charm, and the fact that this time he'd be watching the games from his couch, made him the perfect motivator. Mourinho had a clear call to arms for all the fans around the world: No more excuses!

No More Excuses

Leveraging audience social data, we joined the conversations and created targeted content that reacted in real-time to fans' context and barriers to watch the game with friends. 

As a continuation from The Prep Talk created by Publicis Italia and directed by Guy Ritchie, the digital campaign kicked off with a film showing Mourinho, now inside his apartment, reading out all the excuses fans regularly give. In his typical “Special One” manner, he dismissed them all, reminding fans that there are no excuses for missing a Champions League match. Throughout the knockout phase, we created over 1,000 personalised, hyper-relevant response videos that allowed Mourinho to address fans directly around the world, reminding them no one should miss match nights with friends.

Getting friends back in the game

Motivating football fans wasn’t enough, we wanted to provide them with tools to make getting together with friends easier. So we launched a virtual version of Mourinho, a chatbot that let fans interact one-to-one with José and create witty, excuse-busting, shareable responses and social videos to send to their friends. Our bot connected fans with services like Uber, Deliveroo and Task Rabbit, making sure that even the most sincere excuses could be overcome with a little help from Mourinho and Heineken.

The Final Excuse

After months of tournament the grand finale was getting closer. We knew that most people wouldn’t be making excuses to miss watching the Champions League Final with friends. If they had an excuse, it was going to be a very good one. José Mourinho had busted every excuse fans had made for not watching matches with their friends...except for one.

We created an epic film featuring Nicolás, a football fan living in a research outpost in the Arctic. He had a pretty good excuse: his friends were thousands of miles away. But we left no man behind and a Heineken extraction team helped him get back to his friends for the Champions League Final. And in one final feat, instead of bringing Nicolas home, we took him straight to Principality Stadium in Cardiff where his friends were waiting in the box to watch the match.


“No More Excuses” reached 35% of our target audience, delivering 2.2bn impressions and over 256m total views across c.1000 videos.

The data driven relevancy of the excuse-busting videos was reflected in strong average video completion rates of 39% across all phases, rising to 45% for the quarter-finals.

Also, over 35% of those who used the personal and customisable chatbot went on to set match reminders and invite friends to interact.