Campaign: Consumer/Food & Drink - Heinz tomato soup rolls back the years

Campaign: Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup 100th Birthday
Client: Heinz
PR team: Cow PR
Timescale: August
Budget: £40,000

Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup celebrated its 100th birthday in August 2010. To mark the occasion, Heinz released a limited edition tin with packaging based on the 1910 original. Heinz asked its retained brand PR agency Cow PR to come up with a campaign that would promote the limited edition tin and get the public excited about the brand's birthday.


- To create excitement about the 100th birthday of Cream of Tomato Soup

- To raise awareness of the limited edition tin going on sale

- To bring to life the heritage of Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup

- To add some exclusivity to the occasion.


Cow PR was asked to build buzz in the run-up to the public launch of the tin. Heinz also wanted to add exclusivity to the birthday celebrations. Cow PR set up a partnership with Fortnum & Mason, which added exclusivity to the launch and also fitted with the heritage angle - the store was the first retailer to sell the soup in 1910.

Cow took over the store for a week, inviting people to join the celebrations through the unveiling of a prominent window display. Customers could also buy the limited edition tin a week before anyone else, browse displays, buy a Heinz birthday version of the famous Fortnum & Mason hampers and pick up postcards of the historical ads.

In-store, Cow worked with the Gallery Restaurant's head chef to create a specially designed menu inspired by Heinz soup. Bloggers were invited along to review the food.

To bring the heritage of the brand to life, historic Cream of Tomato ads were displayed around the shop floor. The agency also worked with the Museum of Brands to put together an image of a historic tin line-up of Cream of Tomato soup from 1910 to the present day, and to pull together facts and figures about the changes that had taken place over the past 100 years. The Daily Mail wrote: 'Today it's considered a simple store cupboard staple. But when Heinz first brought out Cream of Tomato Soup, it was considered rather grand.'

Museum curator Robert Opie acted as spokesman for the celebrations, conducting national and regional radio interviews promoting the brand story and release of the limited edition can.


The campaign generated 69 pieces of coverage, including eight national print and 14 radio interviews with Opie. Highlights included a double-page spread in The Independent, a substantial piece on Mail Online and the use of the complete historic can line-up in The Daily Telegraph.


The Gallery Restaurant at Fortnum & Mason sold 101 dishes during the course of the celebrations. Heinz Cream of Tomato soup saw a 29 per cent sale uplift during the week following the PR activity.

SECOND OPINION - Jo Grierson, Director, consumer and healthcare, Euro RSCG London PR

Ingredients for successful soup stories: a nation's favourite (especially when feeling poorly); a much-loved and historic retailer; some iconic advertising shots; nostalgic product shots; a birthday celebration; a credible spokesperson and a menu created and sold using the said product. Oh, and a few interesting recipes thrown in. How could these ingredients not deliver impressive results?

Cow PR did a splendid job. It used all the above to secure both breadth and depth coverage. For example, bringing the nostalgia to life in Fortnum & Mason not only gave listing opportunities with London press, but gave the campaign a focus for media interviews and blogger reviews.

Using the advertising and pack shots gave strong supporting imagery for more in-depth pieces with the national media and access to a credible spokesperson, Robert Opie, worked perfectly for print and radio.

This delivered exclusivity to the occasion, but my only criticism would be whether the campaign reached enough of the mass audience, who presumably buy Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup from stores such as Sainsbury's and not Fortnum & Mason.

It would have been interesting to see how this exclusivity could have been brought to life in the major retailers. And I question whether the claimed sales uplift is purely down to PR, or the fact that the PR activity conveniently happened the week before the limited edition went on sale.

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