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Brainwashing at the Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam

May 21, 2011

I’m a white wine kind of girl. Nothing beats a Riesling or a Sauvignon Blanc. Though apparently this week I’ve reinvigorated my love for vodka. I’ve never been much of a beer lover. It just tastes awful. I’m told it’s an acquired taste but it’s not one that I’m willing to spend any time or effort acquiring. Even still I’ve regretted not going to the Guinness Storehouse when I was in Dublin. Though I did sample a lot of beer at the insistence of some Americans.

So it was my mission to visit the Heineken Experience during my time in Amsterdam no matter how touristy it may be. I rounded up Gabriel, a 20-year-old Mexican guy who sells time-shares in Playa del Carmen, and we made our way south. I met Gabriel last night at the hostel. During the day I had a series of absolutely terrible conversations with several different groups of Americans. (Disclaimer: I met a bunch of very nice Americans on this trip, but today I found all the annoying ones). Even though this is the 2nd day one group has been outside of North America (ever) they are sure that the Grand Canyon is the most beautiful place on earth and nothing can compare. Also one man is going to kiss the ground when he gets home because he never knew that he had it so good. The quality of life in America is so much better he said. I would give up on these conversations, excuse myself, walk around a bit and then introduce myself to the next person/group. Until today the majority of the people at the hostel were American, Canadian, and Australian so it surprised me to come across four Argentinians and a Mexican. Still having a conversation in broken spanish was far more entertaining than listening about the Grand Canyon, however nice it may be.

Gabriel and I found a relatively short line at waiting us at the Heineken Experience. The history was quite interesting. I didn’t realize that Heineken landed in America 3 days after prohibition was lifted. Amazing entrepreneurs – I’m really impressed. I also quite enjoyed the genius in marketing. The branding over the years and the marketing monster that is the Heineken Experience itself. You pay to go see the place. You stand the whole way through. Wait in lines at various bottle necks. And then all of a sudden there is what I would like to call the brainwashing room. A place with comfortable couches and large screens at every angle promoting Heineken videos. Oh and dance music. More standing room only sections await until you reach the 2nd brainwashing room where recliners are complete with their very own television playing Heineken commercials over the years. And then there is the entertainment where you can play essentially DJ Hero or take a picture or video – if you fork over your e-mail address that is. Genius!

The admission ticket came with 2 beer tickets. I tried, I really did. But the aftertaste – I just can’t do it. I mean maybe if you just gulp it but then what’s the point? So Gabriel got 3.5 beer total. And even though I’m not a beer-lover I left with a small feeling of brand loyalty. Imagine if I actually liked the stuff!

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