Ones to Watch at Cannes: Heinz’s Kecap ABC and VMLY&R’s ‘Real Husbands Cook’

Kecap ABC is trying to get husbands to be more active at home

As the advertising industry’s premier award for creativity starts, The Drum has selected a campaign from Indonesia that will be Cannes Lions one to watch. Heinz’s Kecap ABC and VMLY&R’s ‘Real Husbands Cook’ is a refreshing campaign that encourages men to take on more of the domestic burden by helping to cook. The Drum spoke to Heinz and its agencies to understand more about the promising campaign.

The world is becoming more aware of gender inequality and many brands are trying to establish their place within the conversation. For FMCG brands, such as Kraft Heinz, the household and the insights around inequality within the household are proving fertile ground for marketing strategies that place the brand at the heart of societal change.

In Indonesia, Heinz brand Kecap ABC and its agencies VMLY&R, Ogilvy and Geometry (WPP Team Heinz) have been developing a purpose around ‘putting mothers first’ for a while but its latest angle is to see how it can encourage men to take a greater effort in household tasks.

The Real Husbands Cook campaign, centres on an online resource for husbands to find recipes and tips, Akademi Suami Sejati, organized cooking classes and has partnered with local NGOs that promote gender equality.

The Drum caught up with Dhiren Amin, chief marketing officer, Kraft Heinz South East Asia and Mudit Trivedi, the business director on WPP Team Heinz, to understand what insights drove the new perspective.

How did you come to this idea?

Amin: Kecap ABC’s purpose over the last two years has been about putting mothers first. This stems from our insight into working moms – that they yearn but never get the appreciation they deserve from their family, especially their husbands. When we dug deeper into this, we found that while they said appreciation, what they actually meant was an equal partner – an equal partner in the taking of the kids, the household, the kitchen.

Given that more than 60% of Indonesian wives work in some form, this was in retrospect quite an obvious expectation. Ironically, the one place where this equality was severely lacking was in the kitchen with less than three in every 10 Indonesian husbands lending a helping hand.

As a cooking brand trusted by Indonesian women for over 40 years, naturally, we feel a moral responsibility towards maintaining this reputation. Not to mention the fact that the brand’s unique 1st press process ensured that husbands could cook great tasting meals, easily. This prompted us to launch our initiative: “Real Husbands Cook, thanks to 1st press”.

Trivedi: When you’re driving societal change, often the message can be hard to digest. People have to first accept the message before they can embrace it. We knew that women would be very open to our message. But men? If we came across as preachy or pointing fingers, they would reject the message outright, so it was important to land it in a tactful manner.

At the same time, our research revealed that many marriages in Indonesia fail due to lack of equal partnership. We thought it would be nice if the brand can play a role in minimizing these failures of marriages and urge men to partner their wives, starting from the kitchen.

It is in the agency’s DNA to deliver not just world class, but also culturally relevant and sensitive work, so we were bent on helping men achieve a certain level of self-realization in order to accept the reality. To do so, we decided to engage someone who has seen a partnership fail (i.e. real divorcees), to deliver our message of what it takes to be a true partner and spread our mission of helping husbands become equal partners to their wives.

This eventually led to the idea of starting a Real Husbands Cook Academy that enables and empowers them.

Why take on a social issue at all?

Amin: There are rare instances when social good is directly linked to a good business. This is a good example of that. Working Indonesian wives seek an equal partner in the kitchen, which is a space where Kecap ABC has a right to influence. The brand can help sensitize Indonesian husbands to this reality and help them become equal partners. It is a business-led social mission, if one may call it that.

How does this link to the product? Or should it at all?

Trivedi: If we want men who have never partnered their wives in the kitchen to step up and start helping them cook, the first question is: how are we helping them? And that is something that Kecap ABC could easily answer because our '1st Press process’ makes it easy for anyone to cook great tasting meals. In that sense, we are the best partner for husbands in partnering their wives.

You have also worked with NGOs and partners, why is that important?

Amin: Because true change does not happen through propaganda, it happens through action. For us to truly influence husbands to cook, we need to reach them, then teach them how to become comfortable with cooking. This needs partners, who can help us reach such husbands in flesh and blood. That is the role that ALB, the group that promotes gender equality plays in this initiative.

How did the partnership work overall? Between agency/client etc?

Trivedi: This is one of those rare campaigns where the walls between marketer and agency, and across agencies, were dissolved. Starting from an identification workshop eight months back, to the launch of this campaign in early October 2018, the agency-marketer team worked seamlessly together to deliver this initiative. The shared belief that we were actually doing something meaningful was the driving force.

Trivedi: Interestingly, good and meaningful work is a result of a great working partnership. And that is something we enjoy with ABC Kraft Heinz. They trust us to be their partner, and also push us to push ourselves. The bolder the work, the stronger the results. It is a win-win. All the work we have done together so far has enabled and emboldened us to be able to take on the challenge of driving societal change.

What’s next for this campaign and partnership?

Amin: This is a mission that the brand is embarking on. We know that it will take a sustained effort to get Indonesian husbands to become equal partners in the kitchen. We are committed to putting in that effort, with the support of agencies like VMLY&R that are capable of delivering campaigns that drive meaningful value to get there. We have already done acts for Mother’s Day where we got more than 1000+ husbands to come together to cook for their wives; an Indonesian record. And for Ramadhan, we created the “Real Husbands Cook” Squad that went around before Sahur; urging men to wake up early and help their wives in the cooking. So this purpose is a continuous initiative.

Trivedi: The work has only just begun. The response to this campaign has been beyond our expectations and is great validation that we are on the right path. Knowing this, we can boldly push forward in driving change and helping ABC Kraft Heinz reach where they want to.

The Heinz’s Kecap ABC and VMLY&R’s ‘Real Husbands Cook’ campaign is a Drum ‘Ones to Watch at Cannes’. To read more of The Drum’s coverage from throughout the week, visit the Cannes hub.

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