Heineken Hub – for when your mates just aren’t that interesting

Posted on May 15, 2012


After a trial in 100 London pubs last year,  Heineken are ramping up the roll out of the Heineken Hub into pubs nationwide, as part of a deal with BT to provide fast, free Wi-Fi.

As well as free Wi-Fi lucky pub goers can enjoy exclusive content from iNewspaper, the Independent’s younger “cooler” sister for those people that can’t manage a whole news story, as well as news on events and promotions in all participating Hub venues.

The iNewspaper tie up is a smart one with a bespoke landing page that, like all Heineken digital, looks great. There’s a handy bar finder to help you find participating outlets (unfortunately my nearest is 30 miles away) and a pub review which is great for pubs taking part, which one wouldn’t want a mention in a national newspaper. And a clever move to tie up with a newspaper for content, in the digital space content is king and this ensures they have a steady stream of new news without having to do any work themselves.

The promise is that you  can get on line quickly with any wireless PC, tablet or mobile phone at any Heineken Hub for exclusive, location-specific content including the best stories from news, views, features, business, culture and sports that’s updated daily.

All sounds great so why does it leave me a bit cold? I suppose I’m not sure what it’s supposed to do – there’s a part of me that thinks so what? I don’t understand why all pubs, bars, coffee shops, hotels don’t offer free Wi-Fi in the first place – surely it’s not that difficult or expensive? And as for those that charge for it – don’t get me started!

It’s a nice branded experience so it should give users a warm glow about Heineken, it allows pubs to offer something different so should give them a nice warm glow about Heineken too. Would it drive footfall – I doubt it, given most phone contracts offer unlimited wireless access these days I don’t think free Wi-Fi would make you pick one pub over another but, if you’re in a Heineken Hub, the exclusive content might be appreciated.

I think what put me off is this from the i website……

Take the pub – there’s nothing nicer than enjoying a pint and catching up on the news while you email your mates. The trouble is that lots of pubs and bars don’t have Wi-Fi and if they do, it’s not always free, or fast, so then you end up not bothering. Realising that surfing the web in the comfort of your local pub is one of life’s pleasures, Heineken is running the Heineken Hub in hundreds of the UK’s best bars and pubs, where two of your favourite things – beer and the Internet – come together as they were surely meant to.

Eh? Surely there’s nothing nice than enjoying a pint WITH your mates rather than sat on your own? And that’s what’s missing, Heineken are trying to tap into a uniquely social occasion, the great British Pub, with something that offers no sociability. It’s a good idea that’s well put together, if Starbucks offered it it would be a big win – I’m just not sure I’d want to be in a pub where everyone has their heads down reading the paper on their mobile rather than enjoying each other’s company.