The Social Swap



The Social Swap is a Heineken® social experiment aimed at highlighting and addressing gender bias in soccer. Former England international players turned pundits, Jill Scott MBE, and Gary Neville, secretly switched social accounts for five days to share their genuine views on soccer – but with Jill posting from Gary’s account, and vice versa.


Female sports pundits face a disproportionate amount of discrimination on social media when sharing their soccer views, leading to a toxic and uncomfortable environment for fans and professionals. As the official sponsor for both the Women’s and Men’s UEFA Champion Leagues, Heineken® wanted to challenge these biases and help do something about the online behaviors. The UEFA finals in May 2023 provided the perfect opportunity to tackle the issue. We had two of Britain’s most famous ex-soccer players and pundits, Jill Scott and Gary Neville, comment on X during five UEFA Champions League Matches. Secretly, Gary and Jill switched social media accounts and commented from each other’s handles, an experiment that proved an ugly truth about sexism in sports fandom. Jill’s account, with posts written by Gary, received five times more sexist comments than Jills from Gary’s account Including remarks like ‘Get back in the kitchen’. Later we revealed the stunt, exposing gender biases and championing Heineken’s® belief that soccer is for all fans.


We targeted a broad range of soccer fans. This included general followers of the sport and commentators on social media, capturing the overall sentiment within the community. Additionally, we recognized the passion for social causes among Gen-Z fans and aimed to make them allies in building a more inclusive football environment.

To highlight the issue of sexism in soccer we first needed an unexpected and undeniable way to expose the problem. Swapping Jill and Gary’s accounts without the public knowing would allow us to see if people were reacting to the gender of the commenter, rather than the content of their comment. Gary and Jill's fame would ensure a high volume of responses to their commentary and would help drive attention to the problem once revealed.

The chosen platform, X (formerly twitter), served as the perfect battleground. It's not only the central hub for live soccer commentary, but unfortunately, it's also a breeding ground for sexist abuse directed towards women in the field. This platform's dominance made it the ideal stage for our intervention.


Gary Neville and Jill Scott MBE shared their opinions about soccer matches from each other’s X accounts over five days and matches. We recorded the sentiment and any sexist abuse responses. A hero film explained the social swap, revealing the results of the experiment to fans around the world and tackling the issue with humor and clarity. We ran an earned-centric amplification strategy across 35 markets, which included broadcast exclusives, in-depth interviews with talent, newswires, content creator outreach and media partnerships with global news titles including BuzzFeed, HuffPost and Heineken® wanted to go further and improve the online environment on social media for all fans. We purchased 5000 licenses for AI-powered moderation tool Arwen and made these available for fans to download, allowing them to filter out sexist and racists comments from their own feeds. A campaign microsite facilitated the distribution of Arwen licenses to fans.


The campaign generated significant buzz, exceeding all key performance indicators (KPIs). There was a 230% increase among women who believed Heineken promotes diversity and inclusion. Overall sentiment across online news and social media was overwhelmingly positive, with 94% of mentions being neutral or favorable (exceeding the target by 9%). The campaign garnered an impressive 7,800 mentions (2,800 above target) and 1.4 billion+ impressions (280% above the KPI). Engagement was also strong, with 122,000 engagements across all platforms. The campaign resonated globally, reaching over 35 countries ( exceeding the target by 350%). Paid social media delivered 226 million impressions, and the campaign film achieved a remarkable 77 million views with a 100% completion rate. Even organic social media channels saw strong performance with 1.6 million film views and 2,700 engagements.


increase amongst women in the belief that ‘Heineken® Promotes Diversity & Inclusion


campaign film Views at 100% completion


mentions across online news and social media (2,800 above target)