March 11th, 2011

Heinz Launches Limited-Edition Ketchup on Facebook in U.K.

Advertising Age

When H.J. Heinz started his business as a traveling salesman 130 years ago, he published a guide for his friends every Christmas, recommending his favorite places to stay while on the road.

So Mr. Heinz would likely be very happy that the recommendation economy is alive and well: In the U.K. this week, Heinz launched a balsamic-vinegar-ketchup variant by selling the first 3,000 bottles exclusively on Facebook to people who were prepared to “like” the product and recommend it to their friends.

There are precisely 1,057,000 bottles of Heinz Tomato Ketchup with Balsamic Vinegar, which Heinz said is its first limited-edition product. Heinz sent out 57 free bottles to food bloggers and VIPs and for use in a sampling breakfast, and the remaining bottles will be available in supermarkets starting March 23.

Neil Kleiner, head of social media at Havas’ Media Contacts, part of MPG, said, “This is a great PR stunt. It’s unexpected for Heinz—which is not the first brand you think of in terms of social media—so it has created a lot of buzz. People go to Facebook to engage with friends; they are only interested in brands if there’s something in it for them, like discounting, vouchers or exclusives.”

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