As round 16 of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) kicked off on February 18, Heineken has teamed up with Foursquare to create an interactive Fan Footprint heat map to show the bars and restaurants where fans are watching matches.
According to Heineken brand manager Bram Reukers, the heat map is a visualization of data from the brand's mobile app, which launched February 14.
The interactive heat map will "change over the course of the days, weeks, and months to come, based on the number of participants," Reukers says.
The heat map includes the top three U.S. cities by check-in and also allows fans to see where supporters of each club are checking in. Consumers can look at a map of the U.S. or drill down to one of 30 cities to see specific locations where people are checking in.
There's also an invite feature that allows fans to select upcoming matches and locations for a custom invitation to watch games with friends.
By naming their team allegiance, consumers can also see which teams are most popular in the U.S. and track competition between cities, the post says.
"The challenge in the U.S. is that the league is played in Europe and due to the time difference, it's not always easy to connect with friends or other fans of this league to watch the game or talk about the game," Reukers says. "The idea [for the heat map] was how can we create a digital world for UCL fans in the U.S. to connect...[and] see where other fans are checking in on a national scale and on a local scale as well."
Heineken has been pushing the Champions League to U.S. fans for about three years and because "the appreciation of soccer is growing in the U.S., this is our biggest activation in terms of the Champions League in the U.S.," Reukers says.
In addition to a broad soccer/UCL target, Reukers says the league is "very much appreciated by the Mexican and Hispanic-American audience, so we are making an extra effort to bring this tournament to them."
What's more, during major matches throughout the season, Heineken says legendary soccer players will take over its @Heineken_US Twitter feed to interact with fans 21 and over by answering questions submitted with the hashtag #ShareTheSofa.
Participating players include Patrick Kluivert, as well as Fernando Hierro, Ruud Gullit, and "Ruud" van Nistelrooy.
In addition, because the time difference makes it difficult for U.S. fans to watch live, Heineken is working with Fox Deportes to share highlights of games in real time on Twitter.
"Imagine if you are a fan, but you're not able to make it to a bar or to meet up with friends to watch the game," Reukers says. "In real time, we are able to share the highlights, so you're still up to date about what's going on in the game."
He says Heineken had a similar initiative for the U.S. Open last year, which was well received.
@Heineken_US has 34,000 followers.
According to Heineken, the UEFA Champions League is the most prestigious club platform for international football stars and their clubs and has more than 150 million TV viewers watching live coverage in 220 countries and territories every match week.
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March 19, 2014