From traditions to tattoos: Ad testing Heinz’ recent marketing campaign with young consumers
January 12th, 2024, Hoang Nguyen

From traditions to tattoos: Ad testing Heinz’ recent marketing campaign with young consumers

In the aisles of a supermarket, brands stand side-by-side in their various bottles and packaging, vying for consumer attention. Many brands will have begun their campaign to stand out, be heard or remembered well outside of the grocery store through their marketing activity and ads.

Heinz Ketchup, the popular condiments brand, recently took up the challenge to win over consumers.

Enter its “tattoo label” – a recent marketing campaign by Heinz which included tattoo stencils on certain limited-time bottles. A new survey from YouGov using Self-serve – a highly targeted, fully self-service fast survey building tool – tested the ad among US consumers to understand how it performed. The research also reveals how Heinz fares among consumers in terms of general awareness and what people think about the brand, even before seeing the ad.

Before the ink dries: Measuring awareness and perceptions of Heinz Tomato Ketchup

YouGov data shows that brand recognition is high for Heinz Tomato Ketchup, with 91% of US consumers saying they’ve heard about the brand. Even before seeing the ad, more than three-quarters of consumers say they are likely to buy from the brand the next time they are in the market for food products.

When asked what they think about Heinz Ketchup, the brand was more likely to excel in perceptions of trust (57%) and quality (47%) in the eyes of overall consumers than among younger age groups (53% and 39%, respectively.) And although half (48%) of consumers ages 18-34 say they have a good opinion of Heinz Ketchup, they were less likely to say so than the overall group (56%).

While a household name, perceptions of Heinz Tomato Ketchup appear rooted in tradition and lacking the modern edge to woo younger generations. We asked consumers if they believed Heinz Ketchup to be a “modern brand” and just 13% of 18-34s thought so compared to 20% of 50-64s.

It’s these perceptions where the “tattoo label” campaign aims to land. Tattoo culture is often associated with youthful rebellion and artistic expression. Could Heinz "ketchup" to young consumers by tapping into an edgy vein for its new ad?

Uncorking Heinz’s tattoo campaign performance

The commercial unfolds with a familiar red bottle, but something’s different. The predominately white-and-black label is replaced with a traced version of the Heinz Tomato Ketchup logo that is intentionally mirrored.

After revealing the Heinz ad in the survey, 7% of US consumers say they have already seen it before. Young consumers were especially likely to say they had seen the ad before (16%).

More importantly, 44% of 18-34s say they liked the Heinz ad, in line with the overall group’s response (44%). A quarter (26%) of overall respondents say they were indifferent about the ad and a similar percentage said they disliked the ad. Young consumers ages 18-34 were less likely to say they disliked the ad.

For tattoo enthusiasts, the appeal is even more amplified. More than half (55%) of people who say they like tattoos say they liked Heinz’ “stencil tattoo” ad.

On the flipside, roughly two in five (42%) of people who dislike tattoos say they disliked the ad. Still, roughly three in 10 (29%) of this group say had a positive impression of the ad.

The takeaway

Heinz has taken a gamble with the tattoo label campaign, but it made its mark with younger generations and tattoo enthusiasts. With the edgy ad, Heinz has proven it’s willing to step out of the condiment comfort zone to bolster modern perceptions of the household brand.

Test your own advertising and messaging on Self-serve before going live. Possible use cases include:

  • Identifying the most impactful creative assets
  • Measuring the impact of edits or A/B testing different versions
  • Benchmarking against the competition to understand how competitor ads are performing