PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Heinz scores again with a dash of color

PITTSBURGH: Widespread speculation about a new color of Heinz

ketchup had become so intensive by June that Heinz decided to use that

buzz to shake up the sauce bottle still further.



In mid-June, Heinz an-nounced it would disclose the new color in "a few

weeks." The candidates are orange, purple, pink and yellow.



"We saw the announcement as a PR opportunity," said Michael Mullen,

senior communications manager - and he was right, earning his team a PR

Play of the Week. The pre-announcement announcement was covered by 79 TV

stations, more than 100 newspapers, and major wire services. Heinz is

set to unveil the new color in July and to have it in stores in

August.



Letting the media know a new color is coming without actually revealing

it has been a PR bonanza, Mullen said. Brandweek speculated it will be

purple, a local TV station said it will be yellow, and a Pittsburgh

daily said it will be pink. Every time a story appears predicting the

color, Mullen gets media calls. "On this one, reporters are coming to me

and I'm not making any pitch calls," he said.



Heinz's next PR plans include preparing B roll of the new product and

sample mailings to reporters. Jack Horner Communications, a Pittsburgh

shop that has worked with Heinz in the past, will work on press

materials and interview requests. An online PR component is also being

formulated.



Kids now can visit the company Web site and guess which color will be

next.



Mullen said he expects five staffers at Horner to help him with the

expected second crush of media calls when the new color is finally

announced.



The introduction of what the company calls Blastin' Green produced more

than 4,000 news stories, Mullen said. He's not expecting as much

coverage for the new color, but hopes to reach 200-300 TV stations at a

minimum.



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