Opinion: Beale on ... Heinz Baked Beanz

By Claire Beale, claire.beale@haynet.com, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 30 July 2004 12:00AM

Show me a kitchen without a skulking tin of baked beans at the back of a cupboard and I'll show you a home bereft of culinary self-doubt, yes, but warmth, too. Beans maketh a house into a home.

When I was a kid the baked bean was the supreme example of fast food (cold, from the can) and one of the few experiential definitions we had of the word vegetable. Nurturer of generations of young things, the humble baked bean has made many of us what we are today: typical salt content per serving - 25 per cent of the recommended daily allowance.

Baked beans, perhaps the ultimate commodity, come in all sorts of packages, but I defy anyone to not word associate with Heinz. Remember the great Beanz Meanz Heinz debate of last year? About 100,000 punters called in to make their voice heard, so moved were they by the idea that the iconic slogan of all our yesteryears should be consigned to the pedal bin.

Of course, the slogan (conceived in 1967 by Maurice Drake under the influence of alcohol, as many joys are) hadn't really been used for the best part of 15 years, but that's PR for you. And what a marvellous excuse to run a load of old ads and wallow in a bit of happy-family tea-time nostalgia.

Cheap, too.

Anyway, as things usually go when there's a PR strategy at play, the results were uproariously supportive of BMH. Not quite enough to convince Heinz to change its advertising course (the slogan plays no part in the new ad campaign). But enough to provide a nice little back-drop to a redesign of the classic label and create a sense of occasion around the launch of the new ad strategy.

Since the early 90s, Heinz beans advertising has been rare and unfortunate.

So what perhaps, since Heinz apparently has more consumers than Coke, higher brand loyalty than Kellogg, and is the UK's 19th biggest brand with sales of around £90 million and a 66 per cent share of the baked bean market. So the new ad campaign, from Leo Burnett, is not really about brand awareness or out-smarting competitors. It's about healthy eating, it's about less salt, it's about fibre and folic acid ... it's about the Superbean.

And an irritating little orange bugger he is.

Apparently, Heinz toyed with the idea of getting Woody Allen to voice the new Superbean character. Until it saw his rate card. So we have the New York comedian Jayce Draper doing a bad Allen impression, all nasal neurosis and lame wisecracks. To my mind the scripts are too long, the accent and intonation requires too much concentration to understand, and the copywriting does not reward the attentive viewer. They're not funny enough to really pull off the Allen pastiche thing.

There are lots of good things about this campaign, though. The web address that appears in the corner of the screen leads to a natty site, designed by Swamp, all about the Superbean. And the whole campaign has real stand-out in its category ... not a smiley supermom and cheeky-chappy kid in sight; they're quirky and different, and, though they could be better executed, they do give beans a sense of humour that has nothing to do with farting.

It's impossible not to view this ad in the context of the obesity/healthy eating debate, and here Heinz really scores, demanding a fresh appraisal of the nutritional value of the product.

The redesign of the can demands a mention. It's had a makeover ... the first in its history. Now we have Heinz Baked Beanz on the label and it's another victory for slaughterers of the English language everywhere.

Dead cert for a Pencil? In the "prominent packshot" category, perhaps.

File under ... Z for S.

What would the chairman's wife say? "Did you know baked beans were once

thought a luxury and first went on sale in Fortnum & Mason?"

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk


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