'I'm Just Ken.' The Story Behind That Viral HeineKEN Ad

A chat with its creator, Ciaran McKeon

Ciaran McKeon has spent the majority of his career working in IT, but he's also passionate about great creative and marketing ideas. He often posts spec spots to @oneminutebriefs, and a recent effort tied to the Barbie movie went viral on social media.

The focus of McKeon's work is "Ken"—think HeineKEN, with the green background and font immediately recognizable as the brand's logo. Coupled with the copy, "Come on... Let's go party!" the ad continues to generate buzz.

Muse caught up with McKeon to learn more about the ad... and if he's heard from Heineken.

Muse: How did you come up with the idea?

Ciaran McKeon: This was an idea that was in my head for weeks since Barbiemania started to hit. The 'ken' part was the obvious piece, along with other key Heineken brand assets. ('Ken' was often used as slang in parts of Dublin to call a pint of Heineken).

For me the line that pays homage to Aqua's incredibly catchy song is what sends the ad into the viewers' ears as well as their eyes. It's been fantastic to see so many comments from people who've seen the ad say they're now stuck humming the song!

Is Barbie everywhere in Ireland the way it is here in the U.S.?

I can't say I've noticed much myself as I was probably more interested to see Oppenheimer. We would have seen a lot of spill-over from traditional and social media from the U.K. and U.S. That said, I'll be sure to go see Barbie in the coming week or so!

Did you expect this to take off?

I had absolutely no idea! I often post my spec ad ideas on Twitter at @oneminutebriefs and their daily brief that day was linked to the Barbie movie. The mockup was done in around a minute during my lunch break.

I noticed it seemed to gain more than usual comments and likes so I thought it might be worthwhile to post on my LinkedIn to showcase my creativity to my professional network. By Friday evening it had 11k impressions. By Saturday evening if had just gone over 1million and shared by some top LinkedIn marketing / advertising accounts! It’s still getting lots of reactions and comments over a week later. A lot of people in the industry thought this was a real ad. I guess that’s one of the highest compliments I could wish for!

What’s your background and what’s next for you?

I’ve been working in IT for most of my career. I always enjoy problem solving and attention to detail. I recently completed a MSc in Marketing and still work on spec ads for fun.

Since this has gone viral it feels like a huge opportunity to take this passion further. I would definitely love to explore something in the creative industry. Even creative genius Graham Fink got in touch with me. Although lack of experience may hold me back, I take a lot from one of his older interviews where he said: "In a beginner's mind are many possibilities. In an expert's mind there are few." This attitude and passion will hopefully get me to a place that nurtures my creativity and allows it to flow.

Have you heard anything from Heineken and what did they say?

Unfortunately I've heard nothing yet from anyone there. I'm more than happy to meet up with them if they wish to send an invite my way. I've heard Amsterdam is lovely this time of year.

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