The Heinz Ketchup Police
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Holmes Report

The Heinz Ketchup Police

Heinz Tomato Ketchup is the leading ketchup brand in the UK, but, with intense competitive pressure from cheaper ketchups and a growing array of alternative sauces, consumers need to be reminded that you really ¡®can¡¯t eat without it¡¯.

Paul Holmes

Heinz Tomato Ketchup is the leading ketchup brand in the UK, but, with intense competitive pressure from cheaper ketchups and a growing array of alternative sauces, consumers need to be reminded that you really ¡®can¡¯t eat without it¡¯.

Porter Novelli recommended to Heinz that an enduring, creative campaign was needed to reinforce this message. The birth of the Heinz Ketchup Police came about in response to the Heinz problem of disreputable caf¨¦ owners filling Heinz ketchup bottles with cheap sauce in order to save money. Until now, Heinz had been reluctant to tackle the issue in public ¨C but Porter Novelli used its creativity and strategic insight to turn the practice, known as tipping, to our advantage; by mounting a campaign to stamp it out.

This would deliver the strong coverage the brand needed, whilst also helping put an end to the problem of tipping.

Caf¨¦ owners are small businesses and their proprietors are just trying to make a living. A heavy handed approach would neither court favour with the public (or the media) nor would it be in keeping with the fun, family image of the brand; hence the client¡¯s historic reluctance to confront the issue publicly.

Heinz operates in a sector where it is the market leader. Competition from own brand sauces means that Heinz¡¯s core brand values and reputation for quality have to be maintained to ensure that consumers have a reason to purchase. Porter Novelli¡¯s research into key target audience sections for Tomato Ketchup has always revealed that a diverse cross section of society, from the young to the elderly, enjoy and buy the sauce. However, a breakdown of the target audience reveals that Heinz Ketchup¡¯s main audience is mothers, particularly house wives.

The objectives were to:
¡Æ Give an editorial dimension to the brand proposition ¨C ¡°You can¡¯t eat without it¡±
¡Æ Make more people aware that Heinz Tomato Ketchup is seen by consumers as superior to other brands, with a great taste without the artificial thickeners, colourings and preservatives found in most other ketchups
¡Æ Create a sustainable communications platform that could be rolled out across the UK and deliver media value beyond the launch

Porter Novelli set out to create a PR campaign that would have natural media appeal by incorporating a human interest component, which had been identified as a key media hot button.

Insights into Heinz¡¯s business issues had raised the fact that for many years disreputable caf¨¦ owners have filled Heinz ketchup bottles with cheap sauce in order to save money. Porter Novelli¡¯s strategy was simply to recognise that this practice, known as ¡®tipping¡¯, could be turned to our advantage through a media relations campaign. The key consideration was to get the tone right so as not to upset independent caf¨¦ owners who were simply trying to make a decent living.

Porter Novelli proposed the creation of the Heinz Ketchup Police, a pair of red-uniformed officers who would call on caf¨¦ owners suspected by members of the public of tipping. Critically the officers were to be tongue-in-cheek characters whose only sanction was a friendly reprimand. There was to be no involvement of the real police or of Trading Standards Officers.

The officers were recruited and bespoke uniforms made. A bloodhound was even enlisted to sniff out fake ketchup; he was appropriately christened 57 Varieties.

A central principle of the Porter Novelli approach to consumer media strategy is focus on human interest stories; hence the need for a caf¨¦ owner willing to be ¡®outed¡¯ as the first ketchup felon. The streets of London were scoured and a willing partner was identified in the form of Carlos Costa, owner of the Oasis Caf¨¦ in Paddington. He cheerfully admitted to being a ketchup cheat and agreed to help us launch the Ketchup Police to the media.

A photocall was held at the caf¨¦ and the result was a front page banner headline in the Daily Star plus a half-page article on page three. Following the initial media launch the campaign was taken on a regional tour, and The Ketchup Police used tactically to generate more national coverage.

Coverage of Carlos¡¯ ¡°arrest¡± was on target with coverage in the Daily Star, The Sun and Metro secured on launch day. There was considerable interest and coverage on BBC and commercial radio and TV, being discussed at length by business reporter, Martin Shankleman, and Stuart Maconie on the BBC Radio 2 Drivetime Show, with Maconie saying that he was right behind Heinz. Importantly, all coverage was highly favourable. Key commercial messages about the unique taste and quality of Heinz Tomato Ketchup came across clearly and the media was universally supportive of the initiative and Heinz¡¯s proportionate response.

Following the success of the national launch in London, the Ketchup Police visited other cities including Cardiff and Birmingham. Indeed, Cardiff was so successful that we were able to achieve a double page spread in the South Wales Echo even though the Ketchup Police were prevented from attending the photo call due to the travel chaos caused by the snow in January!

The campaign reached over 16.5m people via national and leading regional print media and 3.6m through broadcast, covering nearly 35% of the population who each heard the message an average of 2 times. Other regional papers took the campaign to a further 500,000 people - thus achieving the third key objective of creating a sustainable platform to deliver media value beyond launch.

Heinz even received calls from consumers about caf¨¦s flouting ketchup law. The issue was discussed extensively in chat rooms with people openly reinforcing our message: ¡°God ¨C I HATE it when I think I¡¯m getting the real thing then end up with a nasty, artificial tasting ketchup!¡±. This demonstrates that the campaign has been successful in ensuring the key messages around authenticity and the superior taste of Heinz Tomato Ketchup truly penetrated the national consciousness.

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