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Communicator of the Week: Heinz

How do you accurately communicate your brand or corporate messages without being so boring about it that  no-one cares? 

A perennial question that PROs answer with flair and vigour every day of the week and something I want to celebrate this week. 

It is summer, when us Brits eat salad alongside our barbecues whatever the weather. Despite this, sales of Heinz’s ’Salad Cream’ continue to decline as consumer tastes evolve 104 years after its launch. 

But the Heinz communications team have a job to do: sell more Salad Cream. 

Their approach was a good one that helped land key, corporate messages, getting people talking about the product, while securing significant media coverage (I heard about it on two separate radio stations and read about it on the BBC and in The Times before I’d even begun work). 

How did they do it? By using Salad Cream’s weak sales and diminishing place in the hearts of British families but turning this into a positive by talking up what people actually do use Salad Cream for these days - sandwiches. 

As a spokesperson for Heinz was quoted as saying,  "There are consumers now who haven't grown up with the brand in the household and just don't know about the iconic zingy flavour or what to eat it with."

I’ll forgive the use of the word “iconic” (nearly as bad as unique) and applaud Heinz who, for good measure, made public its own research that just 14 per cent used the cream on salad. Other popular uses include being used as an accompaniment to tuna, ham or cheese in sandwiches, usually as an alternative to mayonnaise.

So, all they needed now was a news line. By launching a consultation into the name of Salad Cream and suggesting that ‘Sandwich Cream” was in the reckoning all the elements for a good, consumer friendly story were in place. 

I began my working life as a supermarket buyer and would bet that Heinz have seen a decent return, through a nice jump in sales, on a pretty small investment in this story which makes Heinz my Communicator of the Week.  

Communicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite.

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