Being one of the oldest and most trusted food brand in America and across the world, Heinz manufactures and markets a very extensive line of food products varying from condiments, dipping sauce, salad dressing to vegetable juice. With such variety, the most recognized product that Heinz offers is its signature ketchup. Every year, more than 650 million people use Heinz ketchup as a condiment to enhance the flavors of their meals (Statistic Brain). However, to be in almost every household, Heinz has to heavily advertise its products. In fact, the company spends millions and millions of dollars each year to effectively put out the ads. Behind each ad is the hard and creative work of trying to tell the consumers about Heinz beliefs in every product that the company produces. This essay will look at a Heinz ketchup advertisement put out in 2013 and analyze the ad under a very semiotic perspective.
Looking at the advertisement for the first time, one cannot miss the bright and vivid red backdrop that not only matches the brands color but also represents the true color of tomato, the main ingredient of a ketchup. In the middle stands a well-known traditional Heinz ketchup bottle with a special feature of being made out of slices of tomatoes. Below the ketchup bottle is a text that reads “No one grows ketchup like Heinz”.
While a seemingly simple advertisement with such a minimalistic approach, the combination of text and picture provides insight into the values of the targeted consumers. With a wave of recognition of healthy food, people, nowadays, start to give more attention to the food that they eat. Usually, “How many calories are in one serving?”, “How much preservatives are there?” or even “how long can I store the product in the fridge without having to worry about the decrease in nutrition values?” are the questions that buyers have in mind when purchasing food. Catching the concerns, Heinz uses those to target their customers and further the effectiveness of its ketchup promotion. Doubtlessly, ketchup is usually overloaded with sugars and preservatives. However, in our case, a ketchup bottle made out of slices of ripe tomatoes indicates the sole ingredient used and its freshness. Through this ad, Heinz is attempting to redefine the consumer’s perception by luring its audience into thinking that its ketchup is an equivalent of a healthy fresh fruit. No other brand can confidently produce ketchup and compete against the company when it comes down to its freshness and nutrition values. To convince Heinz is the best ketchup in the market, the company continues to states that “No one grows ketchup like Heinz.” Being such a well-known brand, sometimes, Heinz can use a bold statement, such as the “No one grows ketchup like Heinz”, without needing any further evidence to back it up. It’s obvious that ketchup is made in factory, not grown; yet, as the text reads, it is clear that the marketers behind this campaign are trying transform the way people think of ketchup, instead of a sugary condiment, into a nutritious, raw ingredient. Doing so, the marketers have, in some ways, successfully created a unique selling point and attached a “healthy” connotation to ketchup, which would eventually attract more buyers, especially those in the healthy eating segment.
Moreover, in a society where the people are fully aware that Heinz is full of preservatives and the government are trying to tighten the food regulations, it’s imperial that Heinz put out an advertisement that can reassure their consumers. By doing so, it proves to the public that Heinz is a responsible company as it always tries to not only comply with the laws but also think of nothing but the best for its customer when it comes down to quality. Whether the firm actually changed its recipe for the ketchup still remained unknown, the ad is also intended for people who are looking for better quality food. In fact, as a genderless- and ageless-based advertisement, the intention behind it could be trying to target parents who are always looking out for healthier food for their children, athletes who are trying to cut out sugar and preservative, or even healthy stores like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, etc.
As for not only a universally recognized brand like Heinz, every advertisement put out by any companies can be interpreted in many different ways. In Heinz case, a buyer can see slices of tomatoes on top of each other being an idea of art and creative work, and therefore, associate the ad with possibly a campaign that encourages farmers to grow tomatoes with the company. Many others could also think that Heinz now owns farms across the country. With that, many interpretations could be made just by analyzing one ad; however, whether what interpretation it is will depend upon the values and norms of the people in a particular sector of our society. By making the ad simple but straight-forward, the marketers at Heinz have made the ad short but attention-grabbing, highlighting the key benefit of what millions and millions of people eat every