Art certainly imitated life during the seven seasons of “Mad Men”, and now the reverse is happening thanks to one of Don Draper’s brilliant advertising pitches from the critically acclaimed drama.
In a season sex episode, Draper (Jon Hamm) was seen in the boardroom pitching a series of ads for Heinz ketchup; in typically Draper-esque outside-the-box fashion, none of the ads actually showed the product, instead showing such foods as a cheeseburger and fries, sans ketchup, ending with the tagline: “Pass the Heinz.”
“The greatest thing you have working for you is not the photo you take or the picture you paint, it’s the imagination of the consumer,” Draper explained to the execs in the scene. “They have no budget, they have no time limit, and if you can get in that space you can run it all day.”
If viewers thought it was a clever idea, so did execs of the ketchup manufacturer, with Adweek reporting that Heinz is planning to run a series of ads almost exactly identical to the ones that Draper pitched on the show.
“Partly a PR stunt, partly just solid on-brand communications, the campaign is sure to delight fans of the AMC show, which in July will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its premiere,” states Adweek. “And in a nice touch, the ads are officially being credited to Heinz’s current agency, David Miami, and to Don’s fictional 1960s firm, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. (Draper and Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, who approved the idea, are both listed in the credits.)”
Nicole Kulwicki, head of the Heinz brand, told AdFreak that the timing was right to exhume the faux advertising concept.
“Even though Don Draper created the ‘Pass the Heinz’ campaign almost 50 years ago, the communications still really work in today’s world,” she said. “Mr. Draper really understood the one thing every Heinz fan knows, which is to never settle for the foods you love without the great taste of Heinz. What we loved about the campaign is that it doesn’t require paragraphs of copy to explain it. It features mouthwatering food images, and all that’s missing is the Heinz.”
Anselmo Ramos, chief creative officer of the David agency, joked that he met with Draper recently (Adweek notes he would be 91 years old). “We had a couple of Old Fashioneds,” Ramos said, “and he gave me the mechanicals from the original campaign.”
But seriously, the agency had to recreate the images from scratch. “We didn’t have the files, so we had to do a photo shoot,” Ramos revealed. “It needed to look exactly the same, and that was a beautiful challenge.”
Ramos agrees that Don Draper was really on to something with his Heinz pitch. “It’s so simple,” he said. “Don did a great job. This is just 100 per cent 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.”