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How one tweet got the world talking about Heinz Tomato Ketchup

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By The Drum | Editorial

November 30, 2023 | 7 min read

Heinz and The Kitchen UK scooped the prestigious Chair’s Award along with the Social Media and Food & Drink categories at The Drum Awards for Digital Industries. Here’s how one tweet spawned into a multiple award-winning case study.

Example of the award-winning digital work

Heinz Tomato Ketchup has been a dinner table staple for 147 years, but the cost of living crisis caused prices of the beloved condiment to rise and people to turn to own-brand alternatives. In this challenging environment, we had to remind people that when it comes to ketchup, it has to be Heinz.

To reinforce our message, we had to find a disruptive way to cut through negative sentiment around pricing and drive talkability by tapping into the irrational love people have for Heinz Tomato Ketchup.

With a limited budget, our approach had to be strategic and disruptive. Our main objectives were to:

• Remind and reinforce Brits’ love for Heinz Tomato Ketchup

• Create a moment that drives high audience engagement with Heinz and makes us the most talked about brand in the UK, both on and off social.

Strategy:

To create a disruptive moment with a limited budget, our campaign had to tap into an insight that would resonate with Heinz Tomato Ketchup fans and spark organic conversation and engagement. We knew Brits love to engage in debates on social media, and one question that came up time and time again was whether to store ketchup in the fridge or cupboard.

There was already tension around the fridge vs. cupboard debate on social media and through social listening we found people had very strong opinions on this topic. Even celebrities have given their take on this argument in the past, with rapper Cardi B once tweeting "People who put their ketchup in the fridge are not to be trusted.”

We knew this was a consumer insight we could own, and as the ketchup category leader we are the authority on the best place to store ketchup. We now had the opportunity to settle this age old debate once and for all on social and create a disruptive moment that got Brits talking about ketchup and Heinz.

We conducted a nationwide survey to understand how the UK stored their ketchup and found that 41% of people keep their ketchup in the cupboard once it's been opened, even though Heinz recommends storing it in the fridge. We now had data to say many Brits are doing something wrong, which we knew would ruffle a few feathers and drive talkability.

Twitter (now X) was chosen as the channel to launch our disruptive stunt, as it’s the platform to engage in discussions and debates, but also the place brands can create trending conversations. However, with 350k tweets sent per minute on the platform we knew we had to find a way to ensure our campaign launch tweet was seen without paid media support.

We strategically teamed up with No Context Brits, a popular Twitter account with 1.8 million followers. No Context Brits is known for creating engaging and funny content that resonates with British audiences and drives discussion, making them the perfect partner for our campaign.

We settled this age-old debate once and for all by issuing the simple tweet: "FYI: Ketchup. goes. in. the. Fridge!!!" We then had No Context Brits quote-tweet our post with "Settle the debate" to their large British following.

Within hours of posting the original tweet, the words "fridge" and "cupboard" were in the top 10 trends on Twitter in the UK, and even made it over to America's top trends. Our disruptive tweet received 65.8k engagements as people rushed with their opinion on whether we were right on ketchup belonging in the fridge.

To gain further insights on where the nation stood on this debate, we ran a Twitter poll asking fridge or cupboard. The poll received over 13k votes, with 63.2% of respondents agreeing with Heinz that ketchup should be kept in the fridge.

We took the debate over to Heinz UK’s other social channel, where we created bespoke platform content to drive discussion across our social communities. We even quickly reacted to the hype around the launch of Meta’s Threads and got the people talking about this debate on this new platform.

The debate about ketchup storage quickly went global, with people from all over the world weighing in. We were blown away when our tweet, Twitter poll and the conversations it sparked were picked up by global media outlets, from the UK's The Mirror, The Guardian and Daily Mail to the US's The New York Post, The Washington Post and CNN. Even TV, radio stations and podcasts got involved in the discussion, making it a truly global phenomenon.

To round off the campaign, we created limited-edition Heinz Ketchup mini-fridges to reinforce our statement that ketchup belongs in the fridge. We launched a competition across Twitter and Instagram to give ketchup fans the chance to get their hands on a fridge with the simple entry mechanic of sharing where you store your ketchup. We had over 23.5k engagements on this giveaway, and the strategic entry mechanic got Heinz to re-enter the top trending Twitter topics in the UK.

Our insight driven campaign had created a truly disruptive moment for Heinz. The strong public reaction to our campaign proved we had tapped into a universal tension around the right place to store ketchup, but most importantly we had got people talking about ketchup with Heinz on a global scale.

Results:

Starting with just one tweet, we created a moment that drove audience engagement at a level that surpassed our expectations, and hit our objective of making Heinz the most talked about brand, on and off social, across the world. We had reminded and reinforced Brits’ love of Heinz Tomato Ketchup, and inspired them to share their irrational love for our product.

Our disruptive social stunt became Heinz's most successful PR campaign of the year and generated significant buzz for the brand. We achieved:

• 4.4 billion media impressions with global coverage

• 135.6k article engagements across media coverage

• 1.08 billion total impressions across social media

• 467k total engagements across social media

• 16.2% increase in Heinz UK Twitter followers (compared to -0.11% competitor average for the same period)

• 5,300% increase in year-on-year impressions and 2,500% increase in year-on-year engagement on our Heinz UK Twitter channel

But most importantly, the campaign drove real business results. With category penetration previously in decline, Heinz Tomato Ketchup saw a 0.03pts increase in penetration during the campaign activity.

One insight-driven tweet was all it took to disrupt social feeds and start a global conversation about Heinz Tomato Ketchup

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