Last week, Bates Dorland surrendered its position as Heinz’s lead
UK agency when it lost the fight for the pounds 30 million convenience
foods account to Leo Burnett.
The relationship between Heinz and Dorlands spans more than a decade and
everyone has a theory on the reasons for its downfall.
Speak to Heinz and the company will say the change is not a reflection
on the quality of work coming out of Dorlands but simply a move towards
the global realignment of its business in order to maximise its brand
leverage around the world.
Others will tell you that Heinz and Dorlands disagreed about the
direction the creative work was taking, and Burnett will point you to
its internationally co-operative approach to the winning pitch.
The only people not voicing their opinions on the subject are the senior
staff at Dorlands.
’I am unwilling to comment on any aspect of the move including the
future of the business that remains with the agency,’ Dorlands’
chairman, Graham Hinton, says.
Dorlands seized its first slice of Heinz business in 1987. Heinz had
just fired its incumbent, FCB, amid rumours of personality clashes, and
Dorlands picked up the pounds 5 million soup business. The following
year, Heinz extended its range of soups and increased its adspend in the
sector to pounds 8 million.
Tim Ashton, a partner at Circus and a former Dorlands executive creative
director, says in the early days Heinz was not considered an exciting
brief to work on. ’At the time, Heinz was asleep,’ he says.
This changed in the late 1980s when Dorlands - under the creative
direction of Andrew Cracknell - created the generic Keystone poster
The work, which featured brightly coloured illustrations of Heinz’s most
famous brands, was part of a much reported move away from TV. It won
many awards including Campaign Poster, D&AD and Creative Circle.
In 1991, Heinz ended its 43-year relationship with Young & Rubicam and
divided the business between BMP and Dorlands. BMP got baked beans but
Dorlands mopped up the pasta products.
’Eventually the client decided it was time for a return to TV and that’s
when we did the 30 ten-second spots, focusing on different types of
people,’ Ashton says.
The campaign, which broke in 1995, showed a variety of characters and
highlighted the idiosyncratic way in which they enjoyed their Heinz
One ad showed a Sunderland fan who used tomato ketchup to paint the red
stripes of his team’s colours on to his mashed potato.
Over the following years, Dorlands’ Heinz billings increased to more
than pounds 20 million. Dorlands went head-to-head with BMP in 1994 in a
winner-takes-all fight for business worth more than pounds 11 million.
The brief was to create an umbrella brand for many of Heinz’s products
and resulted in Dorlands’ ’toast to life’ campaign.
’Everyone admired the ’toast to life’ work,’ Gerard Stamp, Burnett’s UK
chairman who worked on Heinz as a senior creative at Dorlands, says.
’But there was a big battle over showing the food. The agency wanted to
concentrate on the characters but Heinz loved to see its products on
In 1996, Andy Bryant, the board account director on Heinz at Dorlands,
left for Campaign Palace in Sydney and the partnership began to look
’The problem is they never replaced Bryant,’ Ashton says. ’He was close
to senior staff at Heinz.’
It was clear the relationship was in trouble when, in November 1998,
Heinz awarded its pounds 60 million global Ketchup business to Burnett.
To make matters worse, Burnett also snatched the UK relaunch of Salad
Cream in March.
’Dorlands has lost out because it doesn’t have a network,’ Ashton
’Heinz is huge and it needs an agency that can take a helicopter view of
Now Burnett will be responsible for the global management of the Heinz
’Part of the reason we have appointed Burnett is because it has a very
strong history in strategic global positioning,’ says Robin Walker,
director of European convenience meals at Heinz, who cites the agency’s
work for McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Disney.
Walker will not be pressed on what strategic plans are in place. ’It is
up to both sides to devise this strategy together. We don’t know what
the end result will be. We have to put some flesh on the bones of what
Burnett presented to us.’
The main focus will stay on the existing core markets but Germany has
been marked out for expansion. One of the tasks facing Burnett will be
transcending the cultural differences between these core markets.
Goff Moore, worldwide account handler on Heinz at the agency, says: ’The
bulk of the business is in ex-Empire countries, which are all English
speaking. The different cultures stem from the same point. Heinz foods
fulfil similar needs worldwide which makes planning our strategy a lot
’Heinz is a company on a mission,’ Stamp says. ’We still have some
strategic and creative issues to address but they won’t be hanging
It will be little consolation to Dorlands to know it was part of what
Stamp describes as ’very much a two-horse race’.
’Dorlands was up there until the last shout so Heinz must have thought
it could do the job,’ he says. ’It still has B&Q and Woolworths to pay
the mortgage, but Heinz is what you get up for in the morning. It will