Heineken beats Coca-Cola to become the world’s most awarded advertiser

Lucy Handley, special to CNBC
Source: Heineken USA

Brewer Heineken has beaten Coca-Cola to become the world's most awarded advertiser in 2016, with campaigns such as Le Big Swim for its Kronenbourg 1664 brand featuring football star-turned-actor Eric Cantona helping it to the top spot.

The list, published as part of The Gunn Report for Media, out today, combines the winners of media innovation, creativity and advertising effectiveness awards across 40 countries, including the U.K., U.S., Brazil and China, as well as emerging markets such as Colombia and Lebanon. It then awards points to ads based on whether they won best in show, gold, silver or bronze.

Heineken, up five places from 2015, scored 90 points from wins at 14 awards events or festivals, including its Spanish "Un Jefe de Champions" or "Champions' Boss" campaign, which set up a spoof awards dinner for company managers to make sure they left work on time, so lower-ranked colleagues could leave to watch UEFA Champions League matches.

Campaigns for Heineken's Dos Equis beer, in which long-running ad character "The Most Interesting Man in the World" is retired to Mars, and "The Dilemma," where an Italian football fan has to decide whether to watch a game live at the stadium or on the sofa with mates, also helped Heineken win.

Could award-winning advertising campaigns lead to higher sales? This week, Heineken reported a 1.4 percent increase in earnings to 20.79 billion euros ($21.89 billion) in 2016, despite the negative impact of currency fluctuations, while second-placed Coca-Cola saw revenue down 5 percent to $41.9 billion in figures reported last week.

In the Gunn report, Coca-Cola gained 78 points from 25 awards events around the world, including a Chinese campaign, "Drama Coke," which saw famous movie quotes replacing Coke's name on bottles, and Coke Studio India, where musicians from various genres worked together on projects broadcast on MTV.

McDonald's, in third place, won awards from Brazil, Hong Kong and the Philippines among others, with McDonald's transforming two tollbooths in Manila into Drive-Thru restaurants where commuters could get a free meal, and have their toll paid, as part of its "#imlovinit24" campaign where it ran events in 24 cities over 24 hours.

The 11 most awarded advertisers worldwide 2016

1. Heineken

2. Coca-Cola

3. McDonald's

4. KFC

5= Microsoft

5= Samsung

7. Vodafone

8. John Lewis

9. Disney

10= Visa

10= Pepsi

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