Heineken has unveiled a splashy new concept nightclub at Milan Design Week that takes the old marketing notion of identifying with your customer to a whole new level: The place gets its aesthetic cues from club kids themselves. It’s crowdsourced design.
The beer giant tapped 19 emerging designers to transform the insights of 100 clubbers from around the world into a pulsing, glowing, tech-charged “nightlife journey” that could entertain the nose-to-the-sky designorati who descend upon Milan this time of year.
The club has lots of trendy design flourishes, from an origami-style star behind the DJ booth to faceted bottle holders to interactive features galore. Some of the latter sound a little too gee-whiz for us to believe they came from anyone who actually frequents nightclubs: The “latest video mapping technology”! “Interacting games and unexpected activities”! An “interactive bar surface”! The only interacting club rats want to do with the bar is asking for another Red Bull and vodka.
Still, this gets our “genius marketing” designation for two reasons. First, Heineken has tried to appeal to the Milan crowd by highlighting what they know: design. Like it or not, it speaks directly to the customer in a way a lot of marketing does not. Secondly, the place makes Heineken virtually critic-proof. If club-goers don’t love the way it looks, they have no one else to blame but themselves.