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Heinz is an iconic brand that must position itself for the long term through its marketing communications. Therefore the messages must be designed such that they keep up with social trends but do not alienate any one set of consumers. The ad that I have chosen was placed on billboards as well as in House and Home magazines. At a time when there was a trend towards healthier meal options, Heinz came out with an ad that kept up with this trend and highlighted their high quality ingredients. The positioning of the brand, target audience, and message design are discussed below as well as a potential secondary tool to reinforce the message

Brand Positioning

Heinz as a brand holds incredible intangible value. However, it is also associated with the unhealthy foods that ketchup usually accompanies – burgers, hot dogs, and fries. The product is in almost every household and is priced so that it is accessible for all income levels. It’s distributed widely from large cities to small towns and is in almost every store that sells ketchup and every restaurant that uses it as a condiment.

Around 2006, there was a new social trend that consumers were following. Their personal values became more aligned with healthy lifestyles, which reduced the consumption of foods usually associated with ketchup. Heinz needed to make sure their brand was still a socially acceptable food item and therefore better align the brand with the new social trend.

With this ad, they positioned themselves, not as a condiment, but rather as an additional source of vegetables. They based their campaign on consumers’ knowledge of classic ketchup ingredients and made sure to differentiate based on attributes important to the consumers; less artificial ingredients. Although the consumers knew that ketchup wasn’t grown, the positioning was still effective in that it associated Heinz with real ingredients rather than artificial ingredients.

Target Audience

By placing the ad on billboards, they achieved large reach with a low cost per impression. As Heinz is already a known brand, this increased the frequency of interaction with consumers. However, this ad was not aimed at a specific target audience, besides the common characteristics of driving past this certain billboard. This would target consumers at the Liking and Preference stages on the Hierarchy of Effects as it emphasized differentiated product attributes and correlates with helping a consumer through the ‘Evaluation of Alternatives’ in the Purchase Decision-Making Process (PDMP).

By also placing the ad in House and Home Magazines, Heinz achieved a more targeted audience – those who they believed to be the ‘buyers’ in the home; mothers. Although the push for the product is usually by children, who are stereotyped to be the ketchup-lovers in the home, it is the mother who purchases the groceries.

Therefore, by stressing the high quality of ingredients in Heinz ketchup, they have allowed the mother to achieve the ‘end’ of nutrition using the means of the product attribute of the ingredients (explained further below). This targeted consumers at the Preference and Conviction stages on the Hierarchy of Effects as it correlates with the ‘Evaluation of Alternatives’ and the ‘Purchase Decision’ in the PDMP.

Message Design

This Heinz ad appeals rationally to consumers; whether on a billboard or in a magazine as it shows that the ketchup is made from real ingredients rather than artificial ingredients. Using the logic of persuasion, the ad informs the consumer that Heinz tomatoes are grown better than other ketchups’ tomatoes. This is done through a form of magical realism, as ketchup is not actually grown.

It uses a means-end approach as it contains a message that leads the consumer to a desired state of healthy eating. This ad leads the consumer to believe that Heinz ketchup is a healthy condiment that will help in achieving a healthy lifestyle. The product attribute highlighted is the high quality of ingredients. The consumer benefit to this would be a healthier ketchup-eating experience. The leverage point, that creates the pathway between the product benefit and potential buyer’s value system is the iconic ketchup bottle made of tomato slices to achieve the personal value of healthy eating.

This is a cognitive message tactic as the message focuses on product attributes and benefits and creates knowledge structures between healthy condiments and Heinz ketchup. It uses a hyperbole, as testing Heinz tomatoes’ superiority is not possible.

Secondary Delivery Tool

The original objective of the ad, as previously stated, is to align Heinz ketchup and the Heinz brand with a more healthy and nutritional condiment than previously perceived. The original ad ties personal values to the brand, however the product is a low involvement and rational product and would fall in the bottom left quadrant of the FCB Matrix.

These products involve little thought and a tendency to form buying habits for convenience. The consumer process is Conative –Cognitive- Affective suggesting that trial would generate more subsequent purchases and increased brand loyalty. However, in the case of Heinz ketchup, there are very few people in the public who have not tried ketchup at the time of purchase. Therefore, Heinz started this campaign with a cognitive tactic. The next logical step would be an affective tactic to reinforce the original objective of the ad. The next message tactic I would suggest would be to evoke feelings and emotions and create a point of difference, especially when there is little differentiation in ketchup product attributes.

In addition to this campaign, Heinz launched their “Talk to the Plant” Campaign, which tried to prove that plants grow better when they have human interaction. This campaign was not as successful as they failed to tie the idea of taking care of plants, to the plants that are in their ketchup.

As a second tool, Heinz should differentiate based on a testable product attribute. However, Heinz cannot bring every consumer to their tomato fields to see the great quality of their tomatoes. Therefore, they must bring their tomatoes to the homes of their consumers. I would suggest attaching a package of Heinz tomato seeds to Heinz ketchup bottles. This reinforces the fact that Heinz is made from great tomatoes, and allows a sampling through consumer experience. In order to be successful, Heinz must give explicit directions and ensure product quality when distributing the seeds so that consumers have positive experiences if and when they plant the seeds.

As for the timing of this seed campaign, it should have been alongside the print campaigns to further the message and better align Heinz with the nutritional consumer trend.

No one grows ketchup like Heinz

This ad is critically acclaimed for its simplicity and effectiveness. It had great consumer responses, however there was some controversy over the actual amount of tomatoes used in Heinz ketchup versus artificial ingredients.

The positioning of such an iconic, everyday brand can’t change drastically, however they can’t fall behind on social trends such as healthy eating. Therefore the message design can’t dilute the brand and stray too far from their philosophies without alienating consumers.

I think that with this ad, Heinz succeeded in following social trends without diluting the brand through effective message design.

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