ITV 50 Years of Fame: Private view - Heinz

The Duke of Edinburgh, speaking at an advertising bash in 1960, said: "Advertisements are purely functional things and therefore the criteria is their success as advertisements and not as works of art. Commercial considerations are the judges."

I beg to differ with HRH. TV ads should be judged by their contribution to commercial success, but they should surely have some "artistic" merit.

Advertising is intrusive, we impose it; consumers don't request it. The least we can do is to ensure it's worth watching.

Each of the six Heinz spots reviewed here, albeit from different decades and of very different genres, is watchable, as well as having contributed to business performance.

The first is a classic (1). "A million housewives etc, beanz meanz Heinz." It is assertive and assumptive without being arrogant, engaging and endearing without being effusive, sensitive and sympathetic without being sentimental.

There are product shots, eating shots, benefits and reasons why all wrapped up in such a way that you forget you are being sold to.

Great advertising ideas run and run. "Beanz meanz Heinz" ran for years in different guises. The next ad is from the "millions of little Britons have grown up great knowing beanz meanz Heinz" campaign (2). This particular little Briton was none other than the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, as a precocious little girl. The cheeky wit and repartee of the campaign, starring beloved British celebs, made it great entertainment. But the Maggie ad is a bit special. It is truly "wicked", with superb characterisations and script, and totally irreverent, reflecting the popular mood of the time. Perhaps Neil Kinnock should have eaten more Heinz Baked Beans!

A "toast to life" commercial is next (5). This Heinz umbrella brand campaign used African music and singing to reinforce the emotional bond between British consumers and this most British of brands, to successfully fend off those super-cheap tertiary brands.There was much (an understatement) debate and soul-searching before it was signed off. But signed off it was. The hairs on the back of my neck still bristle when I watch it (sad so-and-so, I hear you mutter). The music is evocative (there is no dialogue), the action enchanting and this one, which features soup, leaves you literally feeling warm inside.

The salad cream ad couldn't be more different (3). Edgy and short on emotion by Heinz standards, with an unpleasant product shot (stale pizza stuck to the bedsheets!). Not very Heinz, you may think, but boy did it work. It worked because it was Heinz, the idea beautifully executed, with a couple of nice twists in an outrageous storyline, and the product the hero.

The ketchup ident from Emmerdale is well targeted, simple, to the point and we can all identify with it: all an ident should be (4).

Finally, an ad to support a new product range, Mean Beanz (6). Nothing too fancy; a light-hearted story- line to introduce the product and tell us what it's all about. Thirty seconds of product and pack shots. The brand manager must have thought he had died and gone to heaven when he read the script. But it's watchable, for all that.

I'm off to watch them all again for the ump-teenth time.

- Eric Salamon is the former general manager of Heinz European corporate marketing and communications and, now semi-retired, works as a non-executive director for various companies

1. HEINZ BAKED BEANS Title: Beanz meanz Heinz Agency: Young & Rubicam Year: 1966 2. HEINZ BAKED BEANS Title: Margaret Thatcher Agency: Bates Year: 1988 3. HEINZ SALAD CREAM Title: Pizza Agency: Leo Burnett Year: 2000 4. HEINZ TOMATO KETCHUP Title: Sponsorship ident Agency: Leo Burnett Year: 2004 5. HEINZ SOUP Title: Toast to life Agency: Bates Year: 1997 6. HEINZ BAKED BEANS Title: Mean Beanz Agency: Leo Burnett Year: 2005