Why is it that almost every sneering remark about advertising down
the years has made reference to baked beans? It’s as if the product has
come to represent the industry at its tacky and manipulative worst.
Actually, there’s no shame in flogging cans of beans, or soup or ketchup
for that matter. Heinz has done it exceptionally well for decades.
Even now, at a time when such products are in danger of becoming mere
commodity items, Heinz continues to endow its brand with feelgood
hearth-and-home values. The result is that the company enjoys a level of
consumer affection rare among giant food manufacturers.
For this, it owes much to Bates Dorland. Ever since it plucked the Heinz
Soups account out of a strife-torn FCB in 1987, until the time, a decade
later, when the company’s billings with the agency stood at more than
pounds 20 million, Dorlands has produced work that has both amused and
touched in equal measure.
Curiously, it is the very ordinariness of the advertising that has
distinguished it. The ’toast to life’ campaign, with its snapshots of
family life, has always managed to pluck the heart strings while staying
The latchkey kids, the single mum and the man mountain of a lorry driver
arriving home so late that he can only gaze silently at his sleeping
children will live long in the memory, as well as the South African
soundtrack that compelled attention.
It’s a bitter price that Dorlands now has to pay for Heinz’s decision to
go the global route with Leo Burnett. And it’s cold comfort for the
agency to know it will be a hard act to follow.