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Seeing Red: Heinz Seeking To Ketchup With Consumers Using Super Bowl Stage

By Barry Janoff

January 7, 2014: It will be déjà vu all over again for Heinz Ketchup on Super Bowl Sunday.

The iconic burger accoutrement has purchased a 30-second spot to air on Fox during Super Bowl XLVIII, marking the brand's first such placement in 16 years and only its second appearance all-time during Super Bowl broadcasts.

Heinz said it would use the air time to jump start "a larger effort" to target consumers via a multi-platform effort. Thirty-second spots are averaging close to $4 million, with some going several millions higher, according to Fox.

The decision comes just months after McDonald's decided to end its four-decades long alliance with Heinz. Although not part of the equation, McDonald's is an official partner of the NFL.

Heinz's previous big game spot ran during Super Bowl XXXII in January 1998, at a cost of $1.3 million. Like today, that commercial was used by Heinz as a forum to kick off a $20 million campaign that ran throughout the year.

“Heinz’s participation in the Super Bowl is an opportunity to remind consumers of the love they have for this iconic brand,” Bill Ulrick, senior brand manager for Heinz North America, said in a statement. “The commercial investment is part of a larger effort to renew our commitment to engage with our great fans.”

The commercial will be part of a campaign under the umbrella theme, “Show Us Your Heinz," encouraging ketchup fans to share how they enjoy Heinz products.

The brand already has launched some elements via social media, including a dedicated Web site where people are encouraged to submit a photo that includes their favorite Heinz product.

“Heinz’s participation in the Super Bowl is an opportunity to remind consumers of the love they have for this iconic brand."

Heinz said that specially marked ketchup bottles in restaurants and at retail contain a QR code, which can be used now until Feb. 2 at the Web site for opportunity to win more than $400,000 in prizes. The five grand prize are trips to the "five biggest championship sporting events of the winners’ choosing over the next year." (Full details here.)

Lead agency is Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago.

Heinz has had a hectic period of late. Last year, Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital agreed to buy H..J Heinz Co. in a deal for about $23 billion. As part of the acquisition, Bernardo Hees was named the new CEO for Heinz.

Although Heinz was dropped by McDonald's, it is still used in about 80% of Burger King locations, according to the company.

For those seeking marketing omens, the winning team in Super Bowl XXXII, the last time Heinz advertised during the game, was the Denver Broncos, which beat the Green Bay Packers, 31-24, behind quarterback John Elway.

Other advertisers in that game, seen on NBC and played in what was then Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, included Pepsi, Tabasco, Bud Light, Doritos (with Ali Landry), Visa, Lipton (with claymation figures of Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin, George Steinbrenner and the voice of Phil Rizzuto), Amex (Jerry Seinfeld and Superman), Lays (with Michael J. Fox) and Tommy Hilfiger (with Michael Richards),

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