The Deconstructed Brief

It's not ketchup.

It's not ketchup.

Brand: Heinz

Agency: Alison Brod Marketing + CommunicationsStarcommPureRED | FerraraDavid Miami

Campaign: It’s not ketchup. It’s Chicago Dog Sauce.


National Hot Dog Day is on the third Wednesday of July. People like Heinz on hot dogs (well, most people). Heinz wanted to get some meaningful attention on National Hot Dog Day.

But how? The brand couldn’t just do a lame, “hey, enjoy Heinz on your hot dog today” post and expect to get attention, right?


It’s sacrilege to put ketchup on a hot dog in Chicago. 

One Thought:

Let’s convince the people of Chicago to try ketchup on their hot dogs. 



Rather than avoid Chicago, Heinz decided to go right after Chicago — not because Heinz thought it could actually convince Chicago to change its hot dog-topping ways (well, maybe some), but because it’s a culturally hot button that would ensure people would talk about Heinz and hot dogs in a fun and relevant way. 

Lessons to be learned:

  • Think about the real goal On the surface, a viewer may think that the real goal is to get Chicago to try ketchup on hot dogs. Yes, it would be nice to get the city that is synonymous with hot dogs to embrace America’s only ketchup (we may be proudly biased here) on their dogs. But the bigger value is the press gained from trying, even if it fails miserably.
  • There’s magic in conflict  — Don’t always avoid conflict; embrace it. Where there’s conflict, there’s emotion. Where there’s emotion, there’s an opportunity to fight for or fight against something. Find the tension. Every category has it.
  • Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand. We may sound like a broken record here, but it’s true. Heinz could’ve tried to develop a traditional ad campaign and tried to persuade Chicagoans to try ketchup on their hot dogs. And it would’ve failed. Heinz created an experience that made unsuspecting residents of Chicago the stars of the show by inviting them to try a “new product” (really just classic Heinz in disguise). It was light, playful, memorable and shareable. We’re hard-pressed to believe that any Chicagoans will retain any ill will toward the brand.