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Heineken still hasn’t recovered from Chance the Rapper calling its ad racist

Heineken still hasn’t recovered from Chance the Rapper calling its ad racist
[Photo: Flickr user Max Noisa]

If you’ve ever doubted the needle-moving power of Twitter influencers, pour one out for Heineken. The Dutch beer brewer suffered a significant dip in consumer sentiment after one of its commercials was called racist by Chance the Rapper, and more than two weeks after it pulled the ad out of rotation, the company still hasn’t recovered.

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That’s based on a new analysis from Digimind, which measures brand sentiment across TV, radio, and social media platforms. The analytics firm found that negative sentiment around Heineken jumped 48% the day of–and day after–Chance’s tweet, in which he called out the brewer for its “Sometimes, lighter is better” campaign. One of the spots features a bartender sliding a light beer across a bar. The beverage zips past several dark-skinned extras before it reaches a lighter-skinned customer.

“I think some companies are purposely putting out [noticeably] racist ads so they can get more views,” Chance said in a March 25 tweet. He then sent out another tweet with a link to the spot.

Heineken pulled the spot and clarified that the “lighter is better” slogan was in reference to the beer having only 99 calories, but not everyone bought it. As our KC Ifeanyi wrote, the pattern has just become too predictable: A major brand releases tone-deaf ad, faces inevitable backlash, and follows up with a mea culpa.

In this case, though, the brand in question is still struggling to regain the goodwill of consumers. Digimind’s analysis found that, as of this week, negative sentiment around Heineken was down to 53%. That’s a little less negative than where it was immediately after Chance’s tweets, but still 11 percentage points more negative than before the backlash started, when its negative sentiment was hovering around 42%.

To produce this analysis, Digimind looked at 4,500 Heineken mentions across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, television, and radio.

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