During the sixth season of Mad Men (To Have and to Hold, 2013), Don Draper pitched a campaign to Heinz for its ketchup, that didn’t show the product at all. Each of the three ads was an ECU of food (french fries, a cheeseburger, steak) that would go really well with Heinz ketchup on it – but is lacking the ketchup in the image.
There was no copy except for a headline, Pass the Heinz.
Fifty years ago, Heinz was unimpressed with the idea of a campaign that showed neither its product nor its bottle. And although Draper argued, “Well, you don’t need to show the product, because the consumer will complete the thought. The product will be in their imagination, which is even more powerful,” the battle was lost.
But now, David Miami, Sterling Copper Draper Pryce (you know that’s a fictional agency, right?) and Mad Men’s creator, Matthew Wiener, have managed to get that campaign through.
And creative and productions teams have taken great pains to make the ads look almost identical to the originals on Mad Men.
David’s chief creative officer, Anselmo Ramos, commented, “It’s so simple. Don did a great job. This is just 100% on-brand positioning. It is about never settling. You look at these beautiful shots of empty fries, or a burger, and there’s something missing. And when you say Pass the Heinz, that’s all you need to say. You don’t need to show the product.”
The ads are running in OOH in New York and in the New York Times. The Fries ad will run in Variety as well, and all will be supported on Heinz’s social media channels.
David’s creatives recognised that plucking the ads from fiction, which Ramos called “almost like reverse product placement,” was a stellar idea. “As you can imagine, the creatives here are really happy to see their names next to Don Draper and Matt Weiner. They’re like, ‘Oh my God, we’re collaborating with them?’” Ramos stated.
“It took us 50 years to get this approved. So, never give up. Never settle,” he added.