Heinz Meanz Tubez
A clever online marketing wheeze by Heinz has left some red faces, according to the New York Times. Bright sparks in the ketchup marketing division decided to run a competition encouraging people to submit home brewed ads, but it yielded some less than brand-enhancing entries, as the paper reports:
In one of them, a teenage boy rubs ketchup over his face like acne cream, then puts pickles on his eyes. One contestant chugs ketchup straight from the bottle, while another brushes his teeth, washes his hair and shaves his face with Heinz's product. Often the ketchup looks more like blood than a condiment.
And all these user generated ads didn't come cheap, the paper quotes a Heinz vp as saying it's at least as expensive as traditional commercials. There's some interesting analysis of the strategy over at Marketing Ideas Online, essentially arguing the company started looking for films in the wrong place, while Global Nerdy thinks the ads are actually quite good if not exactly family viewing.
Having reviewed a few of the videos (some of which are very intentionally/unintentionally funny) I'm reminded of a story in Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders: an unsuccessful campaign for soup that offered purchasers of a particular brand free socks with their soup. It was a dismal failure because, Packard contends, people don't like to be reminded of smelly socks when buying soup. Like wise ketchup, on its own without a chip or fishfinger to slaver itself over, is nasty sticky stuff and most of the user generated commercials spread it around pretty liberally. The one below, for example, left me feeling vaguely nauseous and wondering about the cleaning bill:
Still people have been bathing in Baked Beans for years and that doesn't seem to have dented sales.