Beanz Meanz Heinz

Have you seen the new Heinz Beans advert?


I am afraid I must admit that I really do not like it at all. It reminded me of the Green Giant ‘you are what you eat advert’ where the boys quickly tuck into the sweetcorn thinking they will become giants. In fact the last scene of the Heinz advert is practically a mirror image of it; the mum has just told the boy he might grow up to be a giant so he’s scooping them up! In Heinz defence the advert was playing on Jack and the Beanstalk – a perfect parody for them.

Coincidentally Heinz were trying to promote the same message as Green Giant, that they are one of your 5 a day. This claim has been made by Heniz before, in fact I found an old article on the MarketingWeek website which told of how they had been “slapped on the wrists by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)” because of it. Apparently complaints had been made about HJ Heniz claiming that their canned products are an equivalent to fresh fruit an vegetables. The ASA did not uphold these complaints.

I wonder if Heniz were worried about reiterating the 5 a day then with this advert? I was told in a recent lecture that broadcasting adverts always get ‘pre-vetted’ before they are shown on television simply because they cost so much to be shown. We can therefore presume this advert was okayed by the ASA. In fact they must be pretty confident with it because the label appears on their packaging too. And why should they not be? I mean it is true:

“What counts towards 5 a day?
● Tinned or canned fruit and vegetables”

That statement appears on the NHS website. However they immediately follow it up by saying you should buy the ones with no added sugar or salt. They later comment that beans and pulses only count as one portion, no matter how many you eat. This is because they contain less nutrients than other fruit and vegetables. Below this statement they then make a comment about convenience foods:

“Fruit and veg in convenience foods, such as ready meals and shop-bought pasta sauces, soups and puddings. Some ready-made foods are high in salt, sugar and fat, so only have them occasionally or in small amounts”

So there we go. Heinz probably were not worried about the advert being banned because even the NHS website say’s we’re allowed to eat them, occasionally.

Nevertheless they will get some grumbles about it. Now of course people complaining about your adverts generates extra publicity. Depending on the nature of your company and the nature of the complaint this can be a good thing or a bad thing. Take Benetton for example, they revelled in the outrage they caused and it didn’t harm their image. Some may even say it helped it, although I feel that remains debatable.

Would bad press about nutrition and the ingredients used in Heniz products help Heniz image? Is the brand enough of an institution to stand up to it? My answer would be: why bother finding out. The loophole that the NHS website gives them is nothing to shout about. It’s not as Seth Cohen, author of the Purple Cow, would say remarkable. He argues against advertising at all unless you have something new and amazing going on.

“If you do nothing, at least you’re not going to short-circuit your existing consumer networks by loading them up with a lot of indefensible junk”

The NHS website proved that the 5 a day claim was not “indefensible junk” but I would argue that it is deficient junk that’s already been peddled by Heniz before. Cohen suggests taking a leaf from companies such as Ben&Jerrys when it comes to advertising. Here is a quick shot from my notebook on the Purple Cow:

The thing with Heinz is that they actually do have something new to shout about. They have re-sealable fridge packs!


That’s remarkable. In fact that’s revolutionising the way we store the product. I presume the beans will taste better if they’ve been stored better so it’s almost a form of product control! More importantly what the fridge pack does is put’s beans back on our radar. Your much more likely to notice them your the fridge than stacked away in your cupboard with your tinned fruit.

What is also remarkable is that in a lecture a few weeks ago my lecturer started talking about beans on toast. (It was in reference to the comfort and nostalgia factor in advertising). He showed us this old advert:


I had that jingle, the entire thing from “a million housewife’s…” in my head for a good few days. The next night I had this huge craving for beans on toast so I had them for dinner. I have not had beans on toast for a good two to three years. Just someone talking about beans on toast, mentioning having beans on toast for tea or when your in a hurry or when you need something comforting to eat, really, really made me want to have some beans on toast!

Heinz could simply get people talking about beans on toast as a form of advertising. Talk about them on social networking sites such as twitter for example. Facebook might even be better as they could ask people about their favourite memories of beans on toast or other things they have with beans. Do they like them hot or cold?

They could also take advantage of the new Tv product placement rules and have characters stacking shelves of Heinz beans; buying them; opening the cans. I wonder if you could show a character eating beans on toast? If not then I bet if they just had a giant picture of beans on toast on a billboard and if nothing else it would increase sales and not damage the brand.


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