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Creative With Ketchup: A Look Into Heinz’s Marketing Campaigns

This content discusses three creative marketing campaigns by Heinz, including a burger contest, a stained clothing fundraiser, and an AI art gallery.

By Rina Bottom ・6 min read
Business & Marketing Strategy

It’s Friday and you have decided to step out of the office to grab a burger and fries for lunch. You take a bite of a french fry but realize it's missing something. Checking out the condiments on the table, the answer is right in front of you. You see a bottle of Heinz Ketchup and realize, “ahh, just what I needed.” Shake up the bottle, squirt some ketchup onto your plate and dig in.

Why is this making you hungry? Better yet, why are Heinz’s products eliciting emotional responses? It turns out the creative marketing team over at Heinz has been up to some interesting tactics for their digital marketing.

The Heinz brand has established itself as a market leader in the food industry, but they haven’t done it by solely relying on its delicious products. They have a way of creating marketing campaigns that stand out amongst the competition and continue to grow their market share. 

Art of the Burger

Heinz’s “Art of the Burger” campaign was designed to engage its Instagram followers by using a hashtag contest format. This was Heinz's second year running the Art of the Burger promotion. After the incredible response that this winning beauty of a burger received last year, the team at Heinz had to bring it back.

The premise of this marketing campaign was for entrants to submit a picture of their best burger creation and use the hashtag #ArtOfTheBurger to enter the competition. To be considered, a Heinz product must be added to the creation. The winner received a $25,000 cash prize. 

In addition to running a social media hashtag contest, Heinz hosted a separate landing page so individuals could view all of the mouth-watering entries in a gallery. As they scrolled through the submissions, viewers were engaged further by being led to additional social media pages, the main Heinz website, and even to the restaurants that participated. 

I appreciate that Heinz thought outside of the box to create an engaging campaign. While most Heinz product lovers are not going to take a picture with a bottle of mustard and post it on their social media, they are more likely to show off their awesome burger creations featuring a Heinz product. 

How can you recreate this campaign?

This campaign is the easiest to replicate of the three campaigns I mention. Simply run a hashtag contest. Ask your followers to post a picture of their user-generated content along with a hashtag. Then, use a platform that can pull in the entries so you can choose a winner. Don’t forget to build a landing page to show off the gallery so followers can vote on their favorite entry. 

Heinz Vintage Drip 

https://youtu.be/imdISGFzclg

You are at the Giants baseball game grubbing down on a hotdog and beer. You take your next bite and splat! You look down, and there it is, a dollop of mustard or ketchup right on your Giants Jersey. Your shirt is forever stained with the memory of the Giants winning the game against the Dodgers. (#sorrynotsorry SF Giants all the way!)

Heinz took this concept and ran with it. They partnered with thredUP, a sustainable used clothing eCommerce store. From basic tees to off-the-runway gowns, they sell it all. For this fundraiser, Heinz selected used pieces of clothing to stain with a “little bit of spice” and sell during a limited drop. They also encouraged buyers to share the movement and their purchases on social media with #HeinzVintageDrip. One hundred percent of the proceeds from sales will be donated to Rise Against Hunger, an international hunger aid organization.

What's so progressive about this campaign is that Heinz did not have to create a new clothing line for this campaign, they used what was already available to them. By utilizing the gently used clothing in thredUP’s warehouses, it’s a win-win. Consumers get a discount on a name-brand shirt and production costs were reduced dramatically. 

How can you reproduce this campaign?

Team up with a sustainably sourced company and share a product line, or donate to climate change organizations. Sustainable, eco-friendly, and transparent companies are huge talking points for consumers. So why not help the environment while improving your relationship with your clients? 

Additionally, partnering with brands broadens your reach and increases your users' knowledge base of other products and services with similar products or brands. 

Heinz AI Interactive Gallery 

The world of technology is moving fast, and marketers need to stay up to speed or risk being left in the dust. Heinz made a savvy choice to join the metaverse experience by creating a custom gallery with Spatial.io. When you enter this digital gallery, you’ll see different AI-generated pieces of artwork using ketchup as the centerpiece. It feels like going on a 5th-grade field trip to the local art museum all over again. You aren’t quite sure what you are looking at, but you like it.

The Heinz Gallery is yet another tool to create spaces for users to engage with the brand and other Heinz aficionados. Users can meet up with others and go on a little metaverse “outing.” 

What I like about this campaign the most is that it utilizes the latest trend in technology. Keeping up with the Joneses is hard to do when tech is constantly evolving but if it helps you reach a wider audience, the gains are worth it.  

How can you replicate this campaign?

Spatial.io offers free accounts so you can create your own publicly accessed art gallery. If your company happens to have NFTs, this is a great place to showcase them. 

In particular, if you are an eCommerce site, creating a virtual event where your customers attend and you unveil a new product would be genius. To pull this off, you can use email marketing and social media to inform your customer base of the event. If you require users to sign up before they attend the event, you can gain valuable leads. Or you can make this event private to only previously paying customers, so they get first dibs on the new product. 

Not exclusive to Heinz, but…

I couldn’t have all this talk about ketchup and not bring up the MSCHF campaign Ketchup Or Makeup

While Heinz products were not exclusively used in this marketing campaign, the design is very similar to Heinz’s branding and worth bringing up. 

The folks at MSCHF create conversations and virality with their unique ideas. Their first idea was to sell “The Persistence of Chaos, a laptop running six pieces of malware that have caused financial damages totaling $95B.” The laptop was sold for $1.35 Million. If that's not mischievous enough, they have over 80 different campaigns showcasing a wide variety of artwork. 

The idea for the The Ketchup Or Makeup campaign was simple: sell $25 boxes containing packets that are either filled with Fenty Beauty’s Gloss Bomb Lipgloss or just ketchup. As wacky as it seems, this product sold out quickly and is no longer available for purchase. Obviously, the risk of buying the box with ketchup was not enough to deter fans from being a part of this novelty. 

To put it simply, I love the stir this campaign caused across my social media feeds. Quick clips of influencers trying a packet only to find out it's ketchup, or to be pleasantly surprised it is a beautiful lipgloss. 

How can you reproduce this campaign?

It might be best to leave the oddities like this to the folks over at MSCHF. 

But, you can create mystery campaigns. Are you unveiling a new product? Perfect, keep it a secret. No one knows what it is until they visit your website and put the item in their cart. 

Or if you have overstock, make some mystery boxes. I am a big sucker for mystery bags and boxes at craft fairs. I love knowing that I will get the type of item I am looking for, like a scarf, but I don’t know what color it will be until I open it. As a consumer, I enjoy the thrill of the mystery, and mystery boxes usually offer a small discount, which is an added bonus.

In conclusion, get out there and have fun! Marketing is not a boring job. We have the opportunity to be innovative and try new ideas every day. If something doesn’t stick, we move on to the next one. Doing the same thing day in and out can get tiresome for you and your customers. If you are looking for more wacky, crazy, and noteworthy marketing ideas, then read 3 Marketing Strategies We Learned From Cards Against Humanity’s 2021 Black Friday Campaign.

About the author

By Rina Bottom ・6 min read
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Rina spends her days fearlessly helping users on the “frontlines” with the Support Team. She loves assisting users in creating seamless campaigns through support and best practices.

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