Sunday, January 15, 2012

Responsible Marketing ? Heinz #Fail

An interesting thing happened last week. I was in a client meeting and we were discussing sustainability strategy. At one point, the conversation turned to responsible marketing. We started to talk about examples of responsible marketing and I couldn't help but blurt out: "Have you seen the new Heinz Ketchup TV Ads?"

Before you could say "Heinz Ketchup Irresponsible Marketing", EVERYBODY around the table reacted in loud tones of indignation and disapproval. Their response was so immediate that it even took me aback. Most people don't get so enraged by inappropriate marketing, accepting it as an inevitable side-effect of branding and promotional activity.

The current Heinz Ketchup "Be Original" Ads showing in Israel are a far cry from the wholesome, clean, family, humorous and entertaining ads we have been used to from Heinz. In the ad below, two guys have the brainwave-like idea for a new TV Show - isolating a group of people in a house for a couple of months and evicting one, or two, of them every week - a reference to the Big Brother reality show - a  totally depressing TV program that I personally would not want my brand associated with in any way or form.  The guys are apparently suggesting something "original" - hence the tie-in with the campaign tag-line - "Be Original". However, Big Brother is not the issue.  The issue is that these two guys, in mid-bite of their hot-dog,  are suddenly entranced by a sexy blonde waitress in a red uniform, who mysteriously appears to bring them a bottle of Ketchup. See for yourself:

Heinz states in the Company's Communication and Marketing Guidelines, part of the Heinz' Global Code of Conduct, that "Heinz has established guidelines for all of its units and affiliates worldwide related to the marketing of its products..........It is important that all of the Company's communications reflect Heinz's commitment to family-oriented values and its long-standing commitment to proper nutrition and consumer well-being. Heinz must convey these commitments through responsible advertising and messages which promote the healthful consumption of the Company's products."

Is this the family-oriented values face of Heinz Ketchup?
Photo from

I personally think it's a big responsible marketing #FAIL for Heinz, showing disrespect to women, using inappropriate sexual connotations to promote a family food aired on prime time TV when kids of all ages are viewing. Is this really the only way to sell Ketchup? Perhaps it's time I changed brands.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices Contact me via  on Twitter or via my business website  (BeyondBusiness, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)

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