CAMPAIGNS: An Oriental bean feast for Heinz - International Product Launch

Food manufacturer HJ Heinz is active in more than 60 export markets around the world.

Food manufacturer HJ Heinz is active in more than 60 export markets

around the world.

Last month (April), to meet a growing fashion for Western products, the

company decided to launch its famous Baked Beans in China. While Heinz

is only anticipating sales of around 1.2 million cans in the first year

- Britons consume 1.5 million a day - it saw this as an opportunity to

enhance its corporate reputation in the UK. Heinz approached its

retained agency, Holmes and Marchant Counsel to create a suitable PR

campaign around the product.


To publicise Heinz Baked Beans and raise UK awareness that the company

is a major exporting force, exploiting new markets.


Holmes and Marchant realised that the UK media, would not take a ’Baked

Beans to launch in China’ story too seriously. So to push the idea as

good news for Heinz and British industry, it needed to package the

information creatively.

The agency homed in on the idea that a potenial 1.2 billion Chinese

people, famous for exporting dishes such as chow mein, would now get a

taste of one of the UK’s favourite foods.

As Sundays are usually a quiet day for hard news, the story was sold

into the national press as a ’Sunday for Monday’ item.

On 23 March, a photocall was held at the New Hoo Wah restaurant in

London’s Chinatown. Holmes and Marchant persuaded the Press Association

to cover the event and got the story and photography out on the PA

newswire. The following Monday, Heinz spokesman Steve Marinker, fielded

enquiries from the UK broadcast, regional and business press.


Coverage was achieved in all the national newspapers apart from the


The story received a full-page in the Express, while the Guardian turned

it into a ’Pass Notes’ column. In addition, Holmes and Marchant estimate

the campaign achieved around ten minutes of national television coverage

and an hour’s worth of radio interviews and news items. This included a

slot on ITV’s This Morning and a review on the Clive James Show.

Regional interest ranged from Glasgow to Guernsey, with many local

newspapers taking the story and photography from the PA newswire.


For a campaign that only cost pounds 500, the results were

extraordinary. The media loved the pictures of the new Chinese product

labelling and New Hoo Wah waiter, Edwin Chiew eating Heinz baked beans

with chop sticks.

In addition, the idea that Britain was repaying the favour of such

culinary greats as aromatic crispy duck with the humble baked bean, went

down a storm.

Not unexpectedly, the allegedly ’windy’ nature of the Heinz product also

received a good airing in the tabloids and regional press. But, Heinz

itself featured strongly in all media coverage as an innovative

exporter, as did the nutritional value of its baked beans.

Client: HJ Heinz

PR Team: Holmes and Marchant Counsel

Campaign: Launch of Heinz Baked Beans into China

Timescale: March - April 1998

Cost: pounds 500

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