gher・kin━━ n. （酢漬け用）小キュウリ.
Heinz Ketchup Waves Goodbye to the Gherkin
Whether you pronounce “tomato” as to-MAY-to or to-MAH-to, the H. J. Heinz Company is giving consumers something to talk about by redesigning the label of its classic ketchup bottle to play up the main ingredient inside.
Heinz is making what the company is calling the first major change in the ketchup label since the 1940s by replacing the pickle that has long appeared under the words “tomato ketchup” with a tomato, still on the vine, above a new phrase, “Grown not made.”
So what was a pickle doing on the ketchup label, given that pickles are not an ingredient in Heinz ketchup? Well, the pickle has served as a Heinz brand symbol since the company’s pins shaped like pickles — invoking its early offerings like sour gherkins and chow chow pickle — proved popular giveaway items at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.
After leaving the ketchup label, the pickle will be imprinted on the white cap atop each bottle. And the pickle will still appear on the labels of Heinz products like vinegar, mustard, cocktail sauce, chili sauce and — of course — pickles.
Plans call for “Grown not made” to be the centerpiece of a big campaign for Heinz ketchup, scheduled to start in April or May. The campaign, composed of television, print and online ads, will follow in the footsteps of a successful campaign carrying that same theme in Britain, a huge market for Heinz food products.
The label redesign, overseen by an agency in London named Vibrant, also reworks the product’s appearance in other ways. The vine on which the tomato hangs is arranged so it looks as if it is growing from the border of the label. The green color in the border is brighter, too.
The Heinz brand name is in thicker letters, as are the words “tomato ketchup.” The word “tomato” is now larger than the word “ketchup.”
And a longtime bit of Heinz heritage, the slogan “57 varieties,” moves onto the main label from its previous perch on a narrow label around the bottle’s neck.
The changes may seem small tomatoes, er, potatoes, in the grand scheme of things. But they are indicative of the ways that food marketers are rethinking how they peddle their products as important trends reshape how consumers shop.
The condition of the economy is, needless to say, upending long-standing buying patterns. A brand like Heinz ketchup is vulnerable in a recession to cheaper store brands and private-label products, not to mention competitors like Hunt’s, sold by ConAgra, and Del Monte, sold by Del Monte Foods.
Another trend affecting consumer preferences is a growing interest in the sources of the ingredients in mainstream food products. For instance, the Campbell Soup Company has started including on Web sites like campbellsoup.com and helpgrowyoursoup.com information about the farmers who provide tomatoes and other ingredients for its soups.
And campaigns for PepsiCo products like Lay’s and Tropicana are focusing on the quality and purity of their ingredients like potatoes and oranges.
“Moms are taking more care in what they’re feeding their families,” says Noel Geoffroy, United States marketing director for Heinz ketchup at H. J. Heinz in Pittsburgh.
And it makes sense “in an economic time like this,” she adds, to “reinforce the quality of the brand and the ingredients that go into it.”
In research among the female parents who typically buy most of the ketchup sold in this country, Ms. Geoffroy says, “when we introduced the concept of ‘Grown not made’ and the new packaging, we found it helped open their minds to the perception that ketchup is a wholesome food.”
“Mom was significantly more positive about her view of ketchup,” she adds, “and Heinz ketchup.”
“It wasn’t just the tomato,” Ms. Geoffroy says, because “a lot of brands have tomatoes on their labels.”
Rather, “the tomato on the vine was a critical piece of it,” she adds, along with “the brighter green,” because together they signal that Heinz ketchup is “real, it’s grown, it’s natural, it’s fresh.”
The label redesign and advertising from Britain are getting a “tweak” for the American market, Ms. Geoffroy says, along the lines of “adaptations and adjustments.”
The changes began to show up in stores in Britain last April, says Ross Longton, brand manager for Heinz ketchup there, who is based in London.
The genesis of the makeover was “a big insight from consumers,” Mr. Longton says, in that “our tomato ketchup is made from good-quality tomatoes, but a lot of our consumers didn’t understand that.”
“They felt it was full of artificial or potentially artificial flavors,” he adds, “when it’s free of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, thickeners.”
“Consumers are obviously interested in the quality of the product and the provenance, where it comes from,” Mr. Longton says. “Moms want to feel happy and secure giving ketchup to their kids.”
That made the “Grown not made” idea from Vibrant “exciting,” he adds.
Ray Armes, who at the time was chairman at Vibrant, says the agency discovered at the start of the project that “the positive attributes of the brand were sort of tucked away.”
“Sometimes, brands go forward thinking people know all about them,” says Mr. Armes, who is now executive creative director at another London agency, Touch of Mojo, which he helped found after leaving Vibrant.
“After generations and generations, you have to remind people” of the attributes that made the brands best sellers in the first place, he adds.
After considering adding “a checklist on the front of the package,” Mr. Armes says, describing what is inside — or not inside — Heinz ketchup, it was determined that “showing a real tomato growing on the vine” and adding the “Grown not made” message would serve the same purpose more effectively.
The label redesign was complemented by a commercial created by the London office of McCann Erickson Worldwide, part of the McCann Worldgroup unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies.
The commercial begins with a tiny seed sprouting in a backyard, which grows into a bottle of Heinz ketchup. A boy grabs the bottle when it becomes full sized and pours some ketchup on his food.
“At Heinz, we believe it’s important to know exactly where the ingredients for your ketchup come from,” says a female announcer. “And that’s why every tomato in every bottle of Heinz tomato ketchup has been grown by Heinz from a seed.”
“Heinz,” she concludes. “We don’t have to play catch up,” pronouncing it “ketchup.” The words “We don’t have to play ketchup” appear on screen at the end of the spot.
(And in British style, the announcer pronounces “tomato” as “to-MAH-to.”)
Mr. Longton of the Heinz British operations says the effort has “completely overdelivered our expectations,” which captured the attention back at headquarters in Pittsburgh.
“We saw what was going on in the U.K.,” Ms. Geoffroy says, and were intrigued because “we were hearing the same things from consumers here” about the provenance and quality of the ingredients in Heinz ketchup.
In addition to the label redesign and the campaign, the ketchup marketers on both sides of the Atlantic reworked the look of the cartons in which Heinz ketchup is delivered to supermarkets, warehouse clubs and other retail outlets.
The brown cartons now sport what Ms. Geoffroy describes as “farm-crate graphics,” intended to reinforce the “Grown not made” theme.
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