One hundred and thirty years ago, H.J. Heinz started his business as a traveling salesman, and published a guide for his friends every Christmas recommending his favourite places to stay while on the road. This year Heinz U.K. is keeping the recommendation economy alive and well with a new ketchup variant being sold on Facebook.
This past week Heinz launched a balsamic-vinegar-ketchup variant by selling the first 3000 bottles exclusively on the social network to people who were prepared to “Like” the product and recommend it to friends.
“This is a great PR stunt,” said Neil Kleiner, head of social media at Havas’ Media Contacts. “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.”
This is the first time Heinz has ever done a limited-edition product and has already seen a huge increase in Facebook fans since the page started selling the new ketchup at $2.40 a bottle, with free shipping. Facebook visitors can buy the bottles via credit card using an embedded payment system.
Heinz also sent out 57 free bottles to food bloggers and VIP’s for use in a sampling breakfast, as a part of the promotion. The remaining bottles of the limited-edition ketchup will be available in supermarkets in the U.K. starting March 23, 2011.
“Heinz is very much aware of the evolving channels consumers use to buy and engage with brands,” Heinz marketing manager Ian McCarthy said in a statement. “Social media is increasingly at the forefront of this consumer-consumption evolution, which is why we decided to use our U.K. Facebook page” to launch the product.