Heinz Says, ‘Top This!’

NEW YORK Heinz is the second food marketer behind Doritos to enter the fray of consumer-created ads with a “Top This! TV Challenge” campaign for ketchup.

At TopThisTV.com, visitors can upload their own commercials and vote for their favorites.

In September, one finalist will be chosen to air his/her TV spot for ketchup on network TV for the back-to-school season. Frito-Lay chose a similar tack in February when it aired the first consumer-created Doritos Super Bowl spot. Such efforts are a cost-effective bonanza for advertisers.

“If the old model was to spend money on TV advertising to get people to go to the store to pick up a bottle, the new one is to use the ubiquitous Heinz packaging to ask consumers to generate TV ads for us,” said Michael Bollinger, director of client services, Smith Brothers, Pittsburgh, which created the campaign with Heinz.

Heinz is hoping the new consumer-centric strategy will help boost sluggish ketchup sales even as Doritos saw a 12 percent sales gain during Super Bowl month, said Frito-Lay representative Jared Dougherty.

Heinz will leverage its promotional bottle “Talking Labels” strategy begun three years ago to drive traffic to the site and generate interest on store shelves. For example, labels might say, “Hungry for Fame?” or “Starving for the Spotlight?”

In the fall, the final set of labels will tell consumers to go online and vote for their favorite commercial among four or five finalists. The winner will also reap $57,000 in addition to his/her day in the spotlight.