- Heinz is unifying its global creative strategy under one brand platform for the first time in its over 150-year history, supported by parent Kraft Heinz’s largest paid media investment to date, according to a news release.
- “It Has to be Heinz” honors what the company describes as an “irrational love” fans express for its ketchup and beans products. Real and potentially apocryphal stories of Heinz-induced mania, including brand-themed tattoos and airport security escapades, were drawn from social media, news articles and word of mouth.
- Made with agency Wieden + Kennedy, the effort debuts with five vignette-style commercials. Ads will be deployed across TV, online video, cinema, social and out-of-home placements.
From the iconic “Beanz Meanz Heinz” to a 2021 effort that asked consumers to draw ketchup bottles from memory, Heinz’s marketing has often aimed to position its products as archetypes serving as shorthand for their respective categories. For its first unified global creative platform, the legacy marketer is turning the spotlight on fans who have developed such a strong preference for its offerings that they will go to “irrational” lengths to express their love.
Stories highlighted in “It Has to be Heinz” range from fairly pedestrian, such as keeping Heinz condiment packets in purses or sock linings, to more daring, like smuggling tins of Heinz Beanz through airport security or swiping some ketchup bottles from a hotel serving tray. A 60-second anthem spot opens with the text, “The Following is Based on True Events,” summoning to mind openings of ripped-from-the-headlines movies and TV. The cinematic style is reinforced through a variety of vignettes that are captured in a grainy, retro film style.
While Heinz in press materials winkingly acknowledged that some of the tales recreated may be inflated, the goal is to celebrate real people who choose to regularly shop with the brand. “It Has to be Heinz” will initially roll out across the U.S., U.K., Canada and Germany before expanding to additional markets in the second half of 2023.
The platform is the result of a “larger transformation” in the company’s approach, one that leans on insights-led strategy and authentic brand experiences, Cristina Kenz, chief growth officer of the international zone at Kraft Heinz, said in a statement. The objective is to move “at the speed of culture,” per Kenz, a refrain that has become common among marketers that are under pressure to keep pace with faster-moving consumer trends driven by channels like social media.
Kraft Heinz has previously fallen victim to shifting consumer tastes, writing down the value of its Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands by $15.4 billion in 2019. The firm topped Wall Street’s estimates on earnings in the first quarter of 2023, with net sales up 7.3% year-over-year.
The timing of the Heinz platform’s launch comes as many consumers return to pre-COVID habits after the stop-start early years of the pandemic. Heinz is not alone in encouraging a sense of indulgence and unbridled brand appreciation at this point of transition. Pepsi is centering its first rebranding in 14 years around the theme of “unapologetic enjoyment,” with a refreshed visual scheme that ditches minimalism in favor of brighter, busier designs.