Adwatch: Heinz's use of Ed Sheeran misses the target

The spot, from David Miami, has a great insight but is too hung up on Ed Sheeran.

As someone who keeps a bottle of Tabasco sauce in my handbag, I identified with the insight behind Heinz’s ad – it is embarrassing to ask for a dollop of something cheap and cheerful on a posh plate. The campaign was said to have been inspired by a direct message from avid ketchup fan Ed Sheeran; someone so passionate about the sauce that he has a Heinz Ketchup label tattooed on to his body. There’s authenticity for you – he’s more than a paid-for face. 

However, despite this solid groundwork, the campaign doesn’t quite deliver for me. Firstly, it’s so hung up on Sheeran that it loses the nuance of the insight. It feels very singular – a tactical execution with no real longevity. Compare this to Snickers’ "You’re Not You When You’re Hungry" – a more meaningful and entertaining way of using famous faces to make a point. It would have been good to see more socially led work that explored why you should be unashamed to use ketchup to make your food experience better.

In addition to benefiting from the PR that he brings, Heinz is tapping into Sheeran’s popularity to try to find ketchup’s place in modern culture; like many British heritage brands, it needs to reach a new audience who have increasingly different tastes. But amplifying others’ love for your brand is hard, even on social media – a more natural home for this kind of execution. To deliver something that’s not awkward and clunky is a big challenge. And while Heinz has a rich history of using its products in creative ways, the branded bottle ‘EdChup’ feels flat. So despite a nice insight and genuine authenticity, for me it’s missed the target.

TV ads 3-30 June 2019. Adwatch research is conducted via an internet omnibus survey among 1,000 adults in Great Britain, aged 16-64, through Research Express, part of Kantar TNS, one of the world’s leading data, insight and consulting agencies. Data supplied by Nielsen

Mobbie Nazir is chief strategy officer at We Are Social

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