When people think of ketchup, almost inevitably they think Heinz. Even if Heinz ketchup isn’t the brand you have in your fridge or your favorite. Everything from the shape of the bottle to the label are part of that collective consciousness that an established brand brings to the table.
Heinz Canada wanted to engage consumers in a new and unique way, leveraging social media and a multichannel campaign giving them a chance to win a customized bottle of Heinz ketchup. To do this Heinz asked followers to submit a drawing of ketchup via a Heinz microsite that is linked to their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. In addition, Heinz turned to outdoor with strategically placed billboards in Canadian cities.
On the social media sites, Heinz Canada posted a short video showing the experiment featuring people drawing ketchup. The result in the video, pretty much everyone drew Heinz ketchup. The video includes the hashtag #drawketchup and a link back to the microsite where budding ketchup artists can share their masterpieces through January 31st. 250 people will be selected and receive a custom box and bottle with their drawing on it.
This campaign uses the power of Heinz iconography that is known world wide to not only promote the product, but as an opportunity to gather more first party data. The latter which is definitely a larger priority for brands these days that might be losing losing access to audience tracking methods like third-party cookies and device identifiers.
One unique aspect to the campaign itself is the fact that entrants aren’t required to share their artwork on social media for a chance to win. This probably means that the campaign has less of a chance of going viral like other hashtag challenges that you see on popular platforms like TikTok Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Consumer engagement has become a bigger challenge for Heinz in recent campaigns. in 2020 Heinz ran a campaign that asked users to share TikTok videos of Halloween preparations for a chance to win a bottle of its limited-release Heinz Tomato Blood Ketchup. This was tied to the hashtag #HeinzHalloween hashtag which had generated 4.8 billion views os of January 25, 2021.
All of this comes as Heinz continues to see a downturn in sales in Canada which is contrast to sales in both U.S. markets and internationally. Hopefully this will help rebuild momentum for the brand in Canada. What will be really interesting to see if they do any follow up to this and release the data on how many people drew and submitted a Heinz bottle versus the competition.
Over the last couple of days, the internet and mainstream media have blown up over the new Kentucky Fried Chicken gaming console that dropped earlier this week. People are baffled by it and in many cases are playing it off as an absurd joke. The reality is, that the new gaming console is part of an ongoing campaign that reaches back a full two years. If you head over to YouTube and search for KFC Gaming you will see the first video was published two years back and since then KFC Gaming has produced and released a total of 47 videos over this period of time. In fact, the gaming console was actually introduced on the KFC Gaming channel 6 months ago with a release date of 11/12/2020 which they apparently missed.
This is all part of an ongoing ccampaign strategically designed to attract a younger audience through a series of goofball promotions. If you go back and look at any of the videos over the last two years you will see a very specific theme. There is an entire section featuring a guy wearing a KFC bucket on his head and reviewing video games. KFC has managed to gain 21,000 subscribers to the channel, and the videos have racked up a fair amount of views considering the limited amount of promotion that has been put behind this.
The gaming console however is the big winner here. The video has 294,000 views, and it’s been picked up by everything from the Today show, to very specific gamer blogs and vlogs. KFC and their agency of record have managed to create the kind of viral buzz marketers dream of through some clever positioning, savvy media buys, and by partnering with a manufacturer that has created what appears to be an actual functional gaming console for them. (I’m pretty sure it’s all smoke and mirrors but the landing page is pretty impressive)
Yes, this thing actually plays games. KFC teamed up with computer cooling brand Cooler Master to manufacture the console with some serious gaming specs. The console is capable of running “the latest titles in stunning 4k, 240fps”. With Asus-powered graphics and an Intel Nuc 9 chip, it seems the KFConsole is essentially a glorified gaming PC. Which heats chicken.
In addition to gaming, it features the “worlds-first” built-in chicken chamber “that uses the system’s natural heat and airflow system you can now focus on your gameplay and enjoy hot, crispy chicken between rounds.” Sounds like a game-changer to us.
This is just one more extension of some of the other campaigns that KFC has run in the last few years. Along with the landing page, there is an impressive social media campaign they have rolled out on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook all of which have been designed to promote the brand amongst a very specific target audience. You have to admit, as goofy as this is, it worked. KFC got the word out and generated a lot of chatter which is what good advertising and marketing are supposed to do. KFC knows the ridiculous nature of all of this and is willing to play it up if there is a chance that they might expand their base and get some fried chicken converts in the process.
I would have loved to have been at the pitch meeting for KFC Gaming 2 years back. Can you even imagine how that went down, how they sold this concept to executive management?
The advertising and marketing industry has been stood on its head in the last month thanks to the Covid 19 pandemic. The economic situation is unpredictable, and the timeline for normalcy seems to be weeks if not months away. The changes that advertising and marketing are experiencing now are manifesting themselves in some very specific ways.
Because so many cities and states are sheltering in place or have limited exposure rules, there is very little incentive to advertise at all. What is the point of doing a media buy if your target audience is missing during the local commute drive time? Why buy outdoor if the volume of traffic on freeways and local roads has been reduced by two thirds? If the audience isn’t there, the reason to advertise vaporizes.
Yes, people are watching TV, either trying to escape the nonstop news about the pandemic or get more information about it. The problem is, a large portion of popular content is gone. Every major sporting event in the United States has been canceled or delayed. The Olympics are on hold. Live event shows have been postponed, and all of these will remain in limbo until things have settled down and returned to normal.
Typically when a crisis forces people to stay home media consumption skyrockets. The Nelson group has found that it doesn’t matter what the source is consumption goes up, whether it’s live TV, streaming, internet, mobile gaming other channels. And while the news is attracting a larger audience base these days, most advertisers don’t want to position their product or service in relationship to the news on the Cover 19 pandemic.
So, Who is Advertising Changing?
The hospitality and entertainment industries for sure. Retail as well. These venues in many cases simply can not open their doors to the public. And those that continue to advertise are now being extremely sensitive with their messaging. You don’t want to come off as though you don’t care or understand the nature of this crisis. Pitching a product or service against the backdrop of a global pandemic could have long-lasting ramifications for your brand.
And What is Being Advertised?
Covid 19 has disrupted more than our socializing and work habits. It has made it more difficult to ship and receive goods. The global supply chain for many products has been ground to a halt or slowed significantly. Look at what Amazon is doing. They have refocused on high demand items, and restructure shipping priorities to hone in on medical supplies and household staples while slowing the shipment of nonessential goods. If an economic downturn settles in over the next few months, we might begin to see a shift in consumer demand and what brands decide to promote as well.
With he world in such an unsettled state at the moment, how can marketers and advertisers make effective marketing strategies and move forward?
What Does the Data Tell Us?
With the ground shifting on a day to day basis it’s easy to look past the data and simply react to the need at hand. “How quickly can we get this?” “We need X right now.” Being reactionary at this point in time is going to yield fewer gains than looking at your data and building a strategy based on it. Especially data that is updated daily and analyzed. Looking at end-of-week or end-of-month analytics will be too little to late. That historical information might mean very little in rapidly changing circumstances.
Update Your Approach
So much of what we do and know has changed in the last month or so. Your team’s focus has probably changed, as well as how they are producing and executing. Content and messaging have shifted as well. Media buy is probably focusing on different channels in an attempt to have the greatest impact from your spend. This is where your data becomes mission-critical. Why? because it can show you if you are being effective or if you are failing. Even the best creative will fall short if it isn’t delivered in a channel that reaches the right audience with the best impact. Using tools like Twitter Enterprise can help you understand how your brand is being perceived, how your product or service is being angered with during all of this.
During periods of uncertainty, it’s imperative that your team pays attention, asks questions, and listens closely to what your target audience is saying in order to be responsive, and present relevant and engaging content.
Keep Your Eye on the Ball.
In times of crisis, it’s easy to get distracted and become more reactionary to the situation. Remember the phrase “Cooler heads will prevail”? There is so much truth in that statement. It’s easy to get caught up on everything that is happening in the world these days. Keeping a level head and your eye on the ball is a really good approach to the situation. Concentrate on the things you can control. Be that reassuring.
It all comes down to this, if you are in the business of advertising or marketing, pay attention to your data and analytics and use that information to provide relevant contentment and messaging to your target audiences. You should be doing that anyway, but now more than ever. The Covid 19 pandemic is altering the way we do business and will continue to do so long after we get the “all clear” message. This has the potential to reshape the marketing and advertising industry for an extended period of time if not permanently.
Think about this. Most of us are working from home. How many businesses are going to see this as a chance to reduce overhead and allow people to continue to work from home after the pandemic ends? (refer to paragraph two and think about the impact over a longer period of time)
Holidays have always been a reason for marketing teams to mashup branding or advertising elements in an attempt to capitalize on a specific holiday’s panache or excitement. More often than not the success of these campaigns tends to fall short. Usually the campaign is a half-baked idea, or an afterthought with the results being poorly executed and delivered, resulting in nothing more than a mention in one of the advertising trade publications or blogs.
This year there were three campaigns that I ran across for Valentine’s day that range from bad (Pepsi) to possibly good (KFC) – depending on the long-term execution of the latter. So, let’s take a look at these and see what cupid brought us in 2020 for Valentine’s Day marketing mashups.
I’ll start with the bad. Pepsi somehow thought it would be a good idea to create an engagement ring to promote Crystal Pepsi. A ring made from something like cubic zirconia housed in a cheap cardboard box emblazoned with the Pepsi logo. Why? Because nothing says “I Love You” like a cheap ring in a logo box.
The engagement ring features a lab-grown, clear-cola-containing 1.5-carat diamond set into a platinum band (this might actually have value if you melt it down). Real Crystal Pepsi was broken down into elemental carbon and then added into the artificial growing process to create this exceptional stone. (color, cut and clarity are outstanding I’m sure) The resulting bling sits inside a white ring box featuring the retro-chic Crystal Pepsi logo.
The ring is only available through a social media contest where entrants share their proposal plans using the requisite mentions and hashtags on Twitter. One lucky proposer will win the one-of-kind Pepsi engagement ring, freeing up a year’s worth of someone’s salary to buy a replacement ring with an actual diamond in it.
Pepsi worked with creative agency VaynerMedia to create the Pepsi Proposal campaign, which runs until March 6th, with the winner announced March 16th.
Another outstanding mashup is the Heinz Ketchup chocolate box. Yes you read that right chocolate truffles filled with tasty, tasty ketchup. Why? Because nothing says “I Love You” like nausea inducing confections packaged in a heart shaped box.
Heinz UK partnered with confectionary wizards Fortnum & Mason for Valentine’s Day creating a red and cyan box with gold foil, which actually looks really nice and matches the Fortnum & Mason brand quite well. From a packaging standpoint I really like this. I question the novelty of the execution though. In my opinion this will be read as a joke, and while it might appeal to some, most are simply going to say “gross” and forget about it. I’m not sure how this will elevate the Heinz or Fortnum & Mason brands long term.
This isn’t the first time Heinz has tried to ruin the magic of a romantic Valentine’s Day Last year they released ketchup caviar, a move in what now seems like the first attempt to forever tarnish this holiday and, likely, your marriage. (Someone at Heinz apparently isn’t loved)
Now for the one that might actually work. KFC Crocs. Yes, the shoe everyone loves to hate has been done up to look like a bucket of the colonel’s finest. This one might actually work. The love connection is a bit obtuse, with KFC joining forces with avant-garde artist Me Love Me A lot (MLMA), who often showcases her eccentric and provocative art on Instagram, where she has over 1.2 million followers.
MLMA introduced a platform version of the shoe where the sole becomes the chicken bucket and the toe is adorned with a little drumette at New York Fashion Week in order to generate buzz and give KFC a platform to announce that a more subdued version of the shoe will actually go on sale next month which means this might have some staying power.
I actually like this because while there is novelty to the campaign, there is an actual practical use for the shoe, and some people are going to be all in on the fact that their ugly crocs are a bucket of chicken. Time will tell through sales though and I predict that these will end up being a collector’s item featured on American Pickers in 10 years.