Don Draper's pitch for Heinz finally gets the greenlight after 50 years

Dive Brief:

  • The Heinz brand is taking a cue from a failed pitch Don Draper made 50 years ago, launching a "Pass the Heinz" campaign for outdoor and print, according to a press release. 
  • The cheeky effort, based on the fictional AMC TV series "Mad Men," comes ahead of the 10th anniversary of the show's premiere in July, as Adweek notes. Don Draper, the anti-hero of the show played by the actor Jon Hamm, is an advertising agency executive in the 60's and 70's. 
  • For the campaign, David the Agency "teamed" with Draper's own shop Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce to re-create three pieces of concept work pitched on the show. The full effort will run on New York City billboards, print ads in the New York Post and Variety and, in a twist Draper probably wouldn't have seen coming, across Heinz's social media properties.

Dive Insight:

For better or worse, "Mad Men" has had a lasting impact in the way a lot of people think about advertising agencies, but Heinz is cleverly utilizing a "failed" pitch from the show to cash in on its still massive cultural cache. Tapping iconic pieces of pop culture for promotions can be a strong way for marketers to draw in and engage audiences who wouldn't necessarily be paying close attention to a brand's product.  

As Adweek points out, the campaign itself — at least in the 60's-era context of the show — is a playful rib at contemporary efforts like "Got Milk?," though this style of simple, straightforward messaging can still connect with consumers today. 

Nicole Kulwicki, the head of the Heinz brand, noted to Adweek that the spots are "still very powerful, even if you don’t understand the Mad Men connection [...] we feel it works very well on its own." 

And, like the TV show it draws inspiration from, the "Pass the Heinz" campaign is decidedly old-fashioned, opting for billboards and print ads as opposed to, say, a Facebook video. However, Heinz is smart to include a social media component to the rollout, as the campaign has already appeared to go viral, generating a lot of good PR.  

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Filed Under: Corporate News
Top image credit: Heinz