guts logo | Brand Strategy Agency
12th February 2024
Marketers Changing the World: Heaps Normal
Kara Sullivan GIF | Gutscreative | Brand Services Agency
Written by:
Kara Sullivan

Heaps Normal Co-founder and CEO, Andy Miller, talks to us about their play philosophy at work and how they get things done differently.

Andy Miller in his matching pyjama set at the Purpose Conference (Credit: Purpose Conference 2023, Sydney)

1.  Your brand has gone gang busters in what feels like a really short time. What’s worked for growing awareness and brand building? 

Play has been a concept at the heart of Heaps Normal from the very beginning. From our name, to how we engage with our team mates and the community at large.

We don’t take ourselves too seriously. And we hate being marketed to as much as the next person. So we put our energy into projects that are as fun for us to create and share as they are for the legends we’re sharing them with. 

A couple of my favourite examples are:

Normal July
The unspoken truth for many of our mates is that taking part in the trendy campaigns around “sober months“ can often result in an XL-sized blowout before or after. Instead of going dry in July, we stood with the legends looking to cut back on the booze, without laying on the pressure to conform to someone else's measure of how much is right for them.  The message? Just do your best!

Heaps Normal Beer Song feat. Mark Bonanno

We thought it was about time to create Australia’s next great beer song…one that was a little more relatable for beer drinkers today. So we teamed up with our mates Ian Berney and Glenn Sarangapany (from iconic Aussie band Birds of Tokyo) and Mark Bonanno (from comedy group Aunty Donna) to write and record a song about what it means to be Heaps Normal.  Check out the song and music video here.

2.  What hasn’t worked, any spectacular failures?

So so so many things. We created a slack channel called #Heaps-Fails so we can have a bit of laugh about all the times things don’t go to plan.

Last Normal July, we thought we’d pretend we were a big beer company and give away a Heaps Normal jetski. It was an old secondhand 90s Seado that we found on Facebook Marketplace and we did it up to look delicious. Unfortunately, the day before we were due to deliver it to the winner, we found out it wouldn’t start! Lucky for us, our Marketing Director’s Dad, drove 8 hours round trip to save the day for us and get it running. All for a few cases of Heaps Normal.

Andy Miller presenting at Purpose Conference 2023 (Credit: Guts Creative)

3.  How do you balance your philosophy of play with running a business and getting stuff done? Is it hard to find the right balance with your team?

It’s hard. It’s a constant balancing act and we don’t get it right all the time. 

We use a quarterly OKR system to unite our teams around specific work that we believe will benefit from focussed energy. This helps with energy management across our team, by telegraphing what tasks to get creative with and which just need to be turned around without too much fuss.

Socialising as a team is important for maintaining a culture of play. And maintaining this in a rapidly growing team has been challenging. Sometimes the best ideas come from unstructured interactions where we’re just hanging out with each other, or doing something silly that doesn’t have a specific business objective/purpose.

4.  What brand do you most admire and why?

Who Gives A Crap - they’ve turned a low involvement, commodity product that most people didn’t give much thought, into an adored, global brand that’s having a positive impact. And they’re a fellow B Corp.

5.  If budget was no issue and you could afford any brand ambassador for Heaps Normal dead or alive, who would you choose and why?

Seth Rogan - we’ve heard a Heaps Normal XPA pairs well with his Houseplant.

Heap Normal beer being poured and overflowing. Text saying Hottest 100 Beers.
Heaps Normal making it into the GABS Festival Hottest 100. Credit: Heaps Normal

6.  How do you define your target market given it can be as diverse as Gen Z, sober coasters, pregnant ladies or part time drinkers?

We tend not to talk about our audience in demographic terms. The Heaps Normal audiences are all hustlers (in the positive sense) - who have something in their lives that’s too good to be wasted. Of course, there’s no such thing as normal…so we try to draw on the weirdness in ourselves and our community to use our differences to inspire creativity, rather than to divide us.

7.  Heaps Normal is a bold brand that carves its own path… which traditional marketing rule is made to be broken?

You don’t need to do paid advertising. Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable (credit: Robert Stephens, Geek Squad)

8.  Most fascinating trend in drinking culture around the world?

The shoey…honestly, what were we thinking.

Seriously though…the damp movement is super fascinating for us. It’s so aligned to everything Heaps Normal has stood for since day one. It’s like mindful/moderate drinking, without overthinking it.

9.  What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt since going from Head of Marketing at Young Henrys to business owner and entrepreneur?

Don’t wait for the perfect moment to bring your ideas to life. Getting started is the biggest determining factor in success (however you define success). And in most cases, you’ve already got everything you need to get started.

10. What’s next for Heaps Normal, is there a big hell yeah goal in the back of your mind?

We’ve got a super exciting collab launching soon with one of our favourite purpose-driven brands. Let’s just say you’ll be bummed if you miss this one.

Andy Miller talking about their play philosophy. (Credit: Guts Creative at Purpose Conference 2023)

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Guts Creative acknowledges the awesome culture and creativity of the traditional custodians of the Country where we work: Awabakal Nation and Worimi Nation. We walk humbly in their footsteps, support the protection of their invaluable knowledge, and are inspired to do better by Elders past and present.
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