Driving through the white entry gates to Heinz’s headquarters in
Middlesex can give visitors a sense of foreboding. Your first glimpse of
the buildings within reveals two drab honeycomb concrete structures,
knocked up in the 1950s. They seem more reminiscent of a chemical
warfare plant in the old Eastern bloc than the offices of some of
Britain’s favourite brands.
Heinz has a reputation for not being the biggest fan of corporate
Two months ago, Jane St Clair-Miller sacked Redwood Publishing from its
pounds 6m Heinz at Home magazine account just days after appointing it.
The publishing company’s crime? Talking to the press.
But 35-year-old St Clair-Miller emerges into the foyer full of smiles,
chatty and seemingly without a care in the world. Could this really be
the iron maiden of Heinz?
She affably escorts me to her office which is rather sparse apart from
proud framed portraits of Heinz’s ’icon’ brands such as Tomato Soup,
Ketchup and Baked Beans. Despite her bright and breezy demeanour it
becomes clear that St Clair-Miller is pushed for time. She’s in the
midst of a particularly testing period for Heinz.
After years of ’downsizing’ (one of the HQ’s two buildings is now
empty), the firm decided to restructure its marketing across Europe in
June. As head of corporate marketing European grocery, St Clair-Miller’s
brief is to strengthen the overall Heinz brand throughout the region
while adapting advertising, PR and direct mail to a new category
She continues to play a major marketing role in the UK, but is now
working with European category directors for sauces, canned foods and
tuna (incorporating John West, acquired from Unilever in June), as well
as integrating marketing staff from other European outposts.
Each of the Heinz ’icon’ brands have account managers and St
Clair-Miller likes each of them to talk about ’my advertising’ while she
retains the broader perspective. She wants to retain this attitude in
each European country.
St Clair-Miller says she wants to avoid the trap of pan-European
’Ketchup is our only pan-European product and even that is positioned
differently in different countries.’
’We’re reviewing everything we’re doing and I’m building a new team, so
it’s going to be tough getting the consistency we need,’ she says.
However, St Clair-Miller stresses that her style is more carrot than
stick. ’I like to bring people with me. My successes have not been
gained by forcing things down people’s throats.’
She admits that there is a strong culture within Heinz that newcomers
tend to love or loathe. This attitude is conservative, cautious and
When Redwood was perceived, perhaps unfairly, to be crowing about its
account win, St Clair-Miller’s statement summed up the culture: ’The
bond of trust was broken from the outset.’
’It’s easy to misjudge Jane,’ says Graham Hinton, chairman of main Heinz
agency Bates Dorland. ’She’s not an aggressive or robust individual but
underneath there’s a steely determination. She’s very focused.’
She hints that the key is to manage upward as well as downward.
’Although Heinz can be a cautious organisation if you have a strong
argument to move in a particular direction, there is no problem and once
Heinz decides to do something it moves quickly.’ That was evident when
just over three years ago Heinz became one of the first major FMCG
companies to heavily commit to direct marketing.
Heinz is now back on the box and St Clair-Miller has managed to make her
mark on the firm’s advertising with the current ’Toast to Life’
campaign, which she is clearly proud of.
’Heinz is an emotional brand. It’s about simplicity, security and
consistency; the last general campaign (United Nations) was too
She is also close to sorting out uncertainty about where Heinz goes now
with its below-the-line marketing. ’We have built our database up to an
optimum size of five million and will be issuing the next edition of
Heinz at Home in January.’
So what drives her? ’I want a big role,’ she replies, although one
senses she is after recognition rather than power. She adds: ’I have one
motto: that I will be happier today than ever before. I’m never
’Just when I get itchy feet there seems to be a management shake-up
which keeps me stretched.’ Could this be coincidence? Or does Heinz
recognise exactly what it has got?
1987-1991: Product manager, soups HJ Heinz
1991-1993: Senior manager, beans/ketchup HJ Heinz
1993-1995: General manager, marketing frozen and chilled, Heinz
1995-1997: General manager, consumer communication HJ Heinz
Present: General manager, corporate marketing Heinz European Grocery.