Pass The Heinz. by Khaled Hussein
Since its beginning
Since its beginning, advertising has had and continues to have a profound impact on our daily lives. From what brand of toothpaste you should use, to your thoughts on gun control, advertising has in some way whether subliminal or direct influenced the decisions you make. This form of promulgation can be viewed as manipulative and predatory. However, there is no denying that it’s an effective strategy for achieving the desired outcome that a company, person, or organization seeks. Most advertisements promote products that aren’t necessarily critical for our survival. We can live without that new rose shade lipstick, fruity flavored ice cream, memory foam pillow, and luxurious Tesla Model S. Yet, if people aren’t buying products then the economic machine which is built on consumerism will falter. Spending is just as important as earning when it comes to sustaining a high functioning government. In a way, ads are a ‘necessary evil’ since they are unfavorable but crucial for a greater good. Advertisements can be thought of as the grease that allows our consumeristic government to run smoothly.
One highly effective ad is from the recent Heinz Ketchup campaign that launched in 2017. I came across the picture early last year while strolling through Manhattan. The bold and simple image caught my eye, but the ingenious design is what really stood out. After a few minutes of staring at the picture, I recalled seeing it before. Initially, this ad appeared in the sixth season of the critically acclaimed television series, Mad Men. In the episode, the main protagonist, Donald Draper, pitches this unique ad for Heinz Ketchup and gets rejected. The three pictures portraying the same idea were originally created specifically for the show by the producers. However, after a few years since the episode aired, the compelling ad motivated Heinz to adopt it in the exact way Draper intended.
This ad campaign by Heinz consists of three distinct picture, each behind a pure white backdrop. The one I saw in Manhattan is a close-up of fifteen french fries with golden ridges. The fries are stacked up starting from the bottom and up to the middle of the picture. Oil gleams off the fresh batch due to light reflecting from the left side. Each fry is roughly the same size and golden color. The top of the advertisement reads three words in bold font: “Pass The Heinz.” The text is significantly smaller than the food displayed under it. The other two ads are similar in style. One shows a classic cheeseburger with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles enclosed inside of plain burger buns. The other ad portrays a piece of steak, cooked rare, that's pierced through with a black plastic fork. All three contain the same caption within the same location. The clear vivid colors of each ingredient behind the all-white background help to highlight the smallest details of each meal. For example, the slightly darker ridges on the french fries, the cracks and grooves in the steak, and the smoothly melted cheese overlapping the meat are all enhanced by the manipulation of color. Even though the images portray mouth-watering foods, there seems to be a missing element to the meal. It feels as though the foods are insipid due to the absence of a critical ingredient. The small caption placed above gives off a vibe similar to a whisper that reminds us of what’s lacking.
By focusing on three classic foods that are prevalent in all countries, this ad works at connecting with a wide audience of all ages. Many men, women, and children love eating cheeseburgers with a side of french fries or a steak cooked to their preference. These three foods just so happen to go well with ketchup; which is the key ingredient missing in each picture. The phrase "Pass The Heinz." is succinct and authoritative in tone. With the period at the end, this sentence sounds like an uncompromising command. The food accompanied by the phrase in front of a white background sparks up one image: someone reaching for a bottle of Heinz Ketchup. This simple advertisement is so ingenious because it has you thinking about their product without ever even showing it. The brilliance of this idea was ahead of its time within the show, yet just perfect for today's modern world.
This ad is successful and the epitome of effective modern advertising. Today our attention spans are lower, leaving no patience for long dense material. Due to the minimal content in these ads, one does not get overwhelmed with information and so it is digested smoothly. This ad can be fully understood from just a mere glimpse. The picture does a great job at transferring one clear relentless image into the viewer's mind. It creates a craving for a product through its absence. I would personally buy the product that Heinz is promoting. In fact, a majority of the condiments I use today are Heinz products. This might be due to the unquestionable influence that advertisements have on our conscious and even subconscious. The next time I look at a plate with a cheeseburger, steak, or fries I won't forget to add some ketchup then Pass The Heinz.