Client: HJ Heinz
Campaign: Relaunch of Salad Cream
PR Team: Holmes and Marchant Counsel
Timescale: Jan - Mar 2000
HJ Heinz must be unique in having a trio of products so embedded in the
national psyche, and larders, that rational discussion about them is
almost impossible. Heinz’s Baked Beans, Ketchup and Salad Cream all drip
with resonance of childhood, and Britishness.
Unfortunately, in the case of the last product, the dream exceeds the
reality. Although Heinz Salad Cream dominates its sector with 59 per
cent share, salad cream has long since been outflanked by other
dressings and mayonnaise as palettes have become more sophisticated, and
sales are in decline.
However, the mere suggestion that Heinz was reviewing the future of the
condiment was enough to the spark a nationwide ’save our sauce’ campaign
in the media. Heinz swears that it had nothing to do with the
But bowing to popular demand, last month it announced that it was
relaunching the product - with a 66 per cent price hike.
To put Heinz Salad Cream back on dining tables; to position it as a
quirky taste; and to remind young adults in particular that it goes with
Strategy and Plan
Because of short lead times, Holmes and Marchant had to start planning
the relaunch before it was even confirmed that it would happen.
The core objective was to inject some contemporary personality into a
brand that was perceived as old-fashioned and had been sorely neglected
for years. Research found that the taste, although universal in its
appeal, was thought to be quirky and individualistic. The target market
was identified as young adults - who would then be able to pass those
memories on to their own children.
Comedy was thought to be a perfect fit with the message and the target
market, so the brand was relaunched to a wide cross-section of consumer
journalists at the Jongleurs comedy club in London. The media were
treated to contemporary foods with the addition of salad cream.
A photo call was arranged with Denise Van Outen and Graham Norton - both
quirky individuals - which allowed for some cheeky images of Norton
rubbing salad cream into Van Outen’s chest. The session was also used to
launch a sponsored 20-venue comedy tour sponsored by Heinz Salad
Measurement and evaluation
The central messages that Heinz Salad Cream is back and that it tastes
good with everything were faithfully replayed by the seven papers which
reported the story.
In fact the Sunday Mirror thought it was so good that it re-ran the
news, despite it having already appeared in the daily edition. This then
triggered a further round of coverage in the broadsheet dailies. It was
also covered on BBC2’s Working Lunch, as well as BBC Radio 1, 2, News
24, and Virgin.
There were, however, some murmurs about the price having doubled and
some suggestions that the original ’save our sauce’ campaign was in fact
Although part of a fully-integrated marketing campaign the PR has
fulfilled its brief admirably. After years of neglect, it got Heinz
Salad Cream talked about again.
Retailers have been persuaded to stock it and, despite the massive price
hike, Asda has even given the creamy condiment the accolade of a
five-star relaunch package with special gondolas and in-store radio.
A web site was also launched to coincide with the product’s availability
in stores. Sales are said to be going well, although whether this can be
sustained against competition from more exotic products has yet to be