Client: H.J. Heinz Ltd., Hamburg, Germany
PR Team: Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, Hamburg, Germany
Campaign: Wake up the Heinz in you! ("Weck den Heinz in Dir!")
Time Frame: January-March, 2000 and 2001
It's no secret that people like to drown their french fries, eggs, and
just about everything else in ketchup. However, research has shown that
teenagers aren't especially discriminating about their ketchup brand
preferences - a distinctly unappetizing trend to Heinz, which has tried
in recent years to up its credibility among the youth set.
Even before the PR push, Heinz ketchup had been selling briskly in
Germany, passing Kraft two years ago to claim the top spot in overall
Still, Matthias Wilberg, marketing director of Heinz Germany, saw
considerable room for improvement. "We weren't starting from zero,"
explains Wilberg "but we also weren't perceived as an exclusive brand."
Adds Martina Kafka, Edelman Germany's director of foods, "We wanted to
make sure that (Heinz's marketing efforts) were credible."
Heinz also hoped to increase its overall visibility in Germany. "In the
US, the Heinz brand has heritage," Wilberg explains. "That's not the
case in Germany, where the brand was founded only eight years ago."
Attempting to create brand loyalty among teenagers in Germany, Heinz
tapped Edelman Public Relations Worldwide's Hamburg office for a program
that emphasized the brand's originality and exclusivity. The agency
responded with "Weck den Heinz in Dir!" ("Wake up the Heinz in you!"), a
talent search designed to find teenagers whose originality and
creativity mirrored that of the Heinz brand.
The teen talent search, the Edelman team decided, was the most effective
way to revitalize public perception of Heinz ketchup among German
"It put together the positioning of Heinz as an original, with young
people trying to prove that they are originals," says Kafka. To generate
widespread awareness for the campaign, Heinz and Edelman moved quickly
to make VIVA, Germany's answer to MTV, the contest's exclusive national
broadcast media partner.
When the contest was announced, Edelman sent approximately 150 "wake up"
packages - including a clock, pencil, paper, spaghetti, and tomato sauce
- to 10 media outlets, including leading teen magazine Sugar. The agency
also established close relationships with the hometown media of the
contest participants, relaying updates throughout the entire judging
A TV production company was hired to shoot footage of the performers as
well as the celebrity judges, which was sent to 19 local broadcast
outlets. VIVA broadcast the two-hour contest finale live, with key
members of the print and online media in attendance. "At first, we had
to push to get attention," Wilberg recalls. "But once people started
rooting for their favorites, it became easier."
The PR assault resulted in widespread media coverage: Edelman estimated
64 million media impressions for the contest's debut in 2000, and 83
million in 2001. Most major print publications, including everything
from daily newspapers to general-interest magazines, featured the
contest and/or the participants in multiple-page spreads. "It gave us
the credibility we were looking for," Wilberg says. As for the
competition itself, top honors (and awards of DM$15,000) were
taken home by a would-be movie director in 2000 and a gospel singer in
Wilberg was pleasantly surprised to see how the media has continued to
track the career progress of the contest's winners and other
"People are curious to see how their plans have become reality," he
"One of our applicants who didn't win, a comedian, took a bottle of
ketchup and said, 'This started my career.'"
Given the enduring media and popular interest, it's a safe bet that the
"Wake up the Heinz in you!" contest will return in early 2002 - and
probably for many years to come. As for Heinz's relationship with
Edelman, Wilberg expresses great satisfaction with the work the agency
has done to date, and plans to solicit its assistance for product PR
(Heinz Green will soon be launched in Germany), as well as for general