Heinz talks to plants, to talk to consumers

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You could say that life was simpler for advertising folks a decade or two ago. We developed print ads or a television spot and we were done. Now with all this new media jazz, life is getting complicated – at least for those who get intimidated by today’s creative needs. You have to dream up ideas ranging from the brilliant to the bizarre. Where does this new idea for Heinz ketchup fit in?

The objective was to test the theory that plants grow better with human interaction and convey that no one grows ketchup like Heinz. The idea: Talk to the Plant – a webcam setup that shows live views of two different tomato plants. One plant is growing by itself, and the other is ‘talked to’ by folks like you & I, through the internet.



A speaker that’s connected to a voice synthesis device is placed next to the ‘spoken to’ plant. To take part, users simply type their message into the prompt and select a voice, and their message will be read out through the speaker. A microphone in front of the speaker also transmits the message online; they’ve even put a little clock in the background – both to prove that the video is live.

There’s a ‘behind the scenes’ blog, which has interesting tidbits of information. Can’t the say the same about the videos – both on the own site and on the YouTube channel. There’s also a link to Heinz’s sustainability efforts.

All this for a ketchup brand, which is already a market leader and leads in imagery too? Given the objective of furthering the perception that ‘Heinz knows ketchup best’ and the ‘technical’ angle underlying it, maybe a 30-sec TVC would have been boring. And this way, you are getting that extra 10-secs of consumer involvement and a far deeper impact. What say? Talk to me.

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