Jul 022013

Taking a look at a few ads from the time, the focus on the richness of Heinz, as compared to the runniness of the competition, was the choice of the day.

This piece, by Wheeler Winston Dixon; Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is a wonderful peek behind the real-life curtain of a 1968 Heinz ad. For those with any advertising experience, epart of particularly if you’ve been involved in a pitch, this presentation will make perfect sense. For those for whom Mad Men is your first experience inside an agency, (aside from Bewitched and thirtysomething), you’ll see how accurate Mad Men is. The intricate thinking and philosophizing and planning behind every word, behind every image, is captured in this storyboard.

This Advertising Age article (with a title I pretty much stole) provides more of a snapshot of what was really happening with Heinz Ketchup’s campaigns, finances, and agencies at the time, and features a different TV spot with the same message. Get the tools you need to take control of your finances anytime, anywhere with a trusted mobile banking solution. I think I remember this one–I definitely remember the last line (I am terribly, terribly old).

Now here’s something I’ve always heard–Heinz’s ketchup recipe was thick, while ketchup was typically runny. And it wasn’t selling that well. So someone came up with the scathingly brilliant idea to feature the thickness as a benefit. Prior to that no one complained their catsup was runny, but Heinz came out with “ours is thick and rich, ergo better” and it worked. I cannot find this anywhere with my crack research skills, (“google”), so it’s unverified. But it’s cool, and I’m a sharer.


  10 Responses to “Peggy was on the right track with Heinz”

  1. Love it!

  2. Really interesting! I have no advertising experience, but I love the idea of taking a product that’s simply unique and pretending that uniqueness equates to superiority. Very clever if it’s true.

  3. Roberta I remember that commercial too!
    Also, Wheeler Winston Dixon sounds like he could be an advertising agency all on his own…(and his legal firm to boot).

  4. I would support your hypothesis; why else would they have come out with the “Anticipation” campaign, emphasizing how thick (and, you have to admit, annoying, if you are eager to dig into that burger) the brand is?

  5. The glass ketchup bottles were mostly before my time. I’ve only ever used the plastic squeeze bottles. I did, however, recently had some Heinz from a glass bottle, and I had one HELL of a time trying to pour it! I figured it was that way with all brands of ketchup.

    • I remember learning that you have to hit the raised “H” on the side of the bottle with the flat of your hand to get it to come out. Wow I feel old!

      • Even better than hitting it was to ever so carefully put your knife in the jar and kind of scoop it out. And I am so old that I remember when everything came in glass bottles including shampoo that shattered like you would not believe when you dropped the bottle in the bathtub. And I can remember begging my Mom to buy Heinz rather than the cheaper brands, which I am sure had to do with what I saw on TV. And just for everyone over 55, remember when McDonald’s fried their French fries in “real” fat, that is beef fat? Those fries were a hundred times better than what we have today, especially with Heinz! Total disclosure: we only ate those fries maybe once a month, nobody took kids out to eat that much in the 50’s or 60’s.

        • My parents were in their 40’s when they had me, so they were still of a generation that did fast food just once in a while. I remember going to McDonald’s was like going to Disneyland.

  6. I was at Y&R when they had the Hunt’s Catsup account. You never heard such calumny showered on a product as the account execs and copywriters heaped upon Heinz, largely because once the Heinz advertising really got in gear, they blew Hunt’s out of the water. Nowadays almost no one remembers that it used to be “catsup.” Heinz won the battle of the names, and now it’s called “ketchup” no matter who the manufacturer is.

    • An interesting take on Heinz is found in Malcolm Gladwell’s book ” What the Dog Saw” in the chapter The Ketchup Conundrum.

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