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“There’s a danger legacy brands can rest on their laurels” – Heinz marketing VP, Giles Jepson, on staying relevant for a new generation of consumers

The Heinz brand that has carved a formidable place for itself in the market, dominating the soup aisle in supermarkets and unrivalled when it comes to the nation’s favourite red sauce.

Key to its success is ensuring it doesn’t fall into the trap others often can, which is complacency, according to the brand’s vice president of marketing Giles Jepson.

Speaking to The Drum Jepson, who is set to judge this year's The Drum Marketing Awards, said: “There’s a danger with legacy brands that they can rest on their laurels,” he said.

“Consumer behaviour is changing so quickly that day in day out we need to make sure that we are being really clear as to the relevancy of products. Both in terms of recipes, packaging, benefits.”

Although just a few weeks into 2014 Heinz has already launched a campaign letting people personalise tins of soup to give to family and friends feeling under the weather.

The activity, which started as a Facebook campaign, is now in its fourth year, and has evolved to become one of the FMCG giant’s cornerstone initiatives, debuting on TV for the first time this year.

Jepson said the idea for the campaign was pretty simple, but that it builds an “emotional connection with Heinz and gives added value to consumers and allows them to feel close to the Heinz brand.”

He went on to explain that as well as establishing an emotional connection with its consumers, the 142-year old brand must stay relevant and continually look forward to the next generation of consumers.

“You need to make sure that a brand is not complacent and is actively recruiting that next generation and offering through the whole of the marketing mix a compelling offer that is fundamentally relevant and recruits that new generation of consumers,” he added.

This particular element is central to the brand’s overall marketing strategy.

In addition to building the relevancy of its businesses it is also focused on driving usage, with Jepson revealing that he is always asking: “How do we unlock influential users and influential usage occasions? How do we fundamentally get category growth? And how do we drive that incremental consumption and usage?”

Social media certainly has a role to play. In the UK alone, the Heinz Tomato Ketchup page has over 444,000 Facebook Likes, and its Salad Cream page reaches over 141,000 users with every post.

However, Jepson said: “The end goal is not about Facebook likes. The end goal is about building brand advocacy and brand love. If as an output of that we can build our brand fan communities then obviously that’s great and it allows us to build a set of brand advocates. But the ultimate objective is to build the emotional engagement.”

In between overseeing the raft of exciting work planned for 2014, including a new Heinz Beanz campaign, Jepson will also be judging The Drum Marketing Awards.

When asked what he’ll be looking for from entrants he said it was all about going “back to basics.”

“The most compelling, and best work in marketing, is going back to the basics which is about having a really clear consumer insight or truth. The marketing work that is developed very logically follows through from that opportunity and in the best work you’re able to see that progression.

“So for me it’s about looking at a really clear, compelling strategy that’s at the heart of the work, and then the creativity,” he said.

Sponsoring this year's The Drum Marketing Awards are Havas Worldwide London, The Gask & Hawley Group, The Recommended Agency Register, Tube Mogul and The Drum Network.

More information on The Drum Marketing Awards, judges, categories and how to enter can be found on The Drum Marketing Awards website.

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