Great Campaigns: Heinz – Ketchup Fraud

ketchup fraud

The “Ketchup Fraud” campaign succeeded in turning a potentially negative situation into a positive one and reinforced customer loyalty

Despite being nearly 120 years old, Heinz has managed to maintain its relevance. This is how you maintain your brand’s relevance and avoid it becoming a throwback. This way, you can secure your legacy.

In its most recent advertising push, Heinz is targeting fake products to capitalise on its iconic slogan, “It Has To Be Heinz.” Since it is one of the most popular ketchup brands in the United States, many restaurants nationwide carry it.

Agency partner Rethink’s print ads feature staff from different restaurants refilling empty bottles of Heinz Ketchup with cheaper, generic alternatives.

The slogan “When it isn’t Heinz, it has to be Heinz” captures the essence of the Heinz “Ketchup Fraud” campaign. This phrase underscores the reality that even when restaurants substitute Heinz ketchup, they know customers still look for that iconic bottle.

A Snapchat video of a restaurant refilling Heinz bottles with another brand’s ketchup inspired the campaign. Later, social listening exercises revealed that this practice was widespread, as many users had observed restaurants engaging in similar behaviour.

Refilling Heinz bottles with generic ketchup isn’t a new phenomenon. In 2016, the chicken chain Nando’s faced criticism after a social media post accused them of using fake Heinz ketchup. This incident led a Nando’s spokesperson to publicly clarify that they only use Heinz ketchup.

However, the “Ketchup Fraud” campaign took a different approach. Instead of simply denouncing the practice, Heinz offered to collaborate with those involved, aiming to help consumers get the ketchup they want while also supporting local businesses. This strategy aligns with Heinz’s “It Has To Be Heinz” ethos, emphasising authenticity and quality.

The campaign encouraged consumers to tag restaurants on the Heinz Instagram page to engage consumers. Additionally, Heinz promoted polls on Instagram to encourage further engagement and participation.

The “Ketchup Fraud” campaign achieved impressive results:

  • 91.5% positive sentiment
  • 128x Benchmark Engagement Rate
  • Within one month, 33 locations officially added Heinz to their inventory.
  • One of America’s biggest sports stadiums, Fenway Park, started serving exclusively Heinz ketchup.

By addressing the issue positively and collaboratively, Heinz not only reaffirmed its brand’s authenticity but also strengthened its relationship with both consumers and businesses. The campaign highlighted the widespread preference for Heinz and underscored the brand’s commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.

In essence, the “Ketchup Fraud” campaign succeeded in turning a potentially negative situation into a positive one. By recognising and addressing the common practice of refilling Heinz bottles with generic ketchup, Heinz demonstrated a commitment to maintaining the integrity of their brand while also supporting local businesses.

This approach not only reinforced customer loyalty but also expanded Heinz’s presence in the market. The campaign’s success is evident in the high levels of positive sentiment, increased engagement, and the adoption of Heinz ketchup in new locations, including a major sports stadium. Through this innovative and collaborative campaign, Heinz was able to reinforce its brand message and continue its legacy of quality and authenticity in the ketchup industry.


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