Bunhill: There's some Soweto in my soup!
Sunday 12 October 1997
This is the mix 'n' match content of the latest marketing push from Heinz, which seems at first sight to be packing all its 57 Varieties into one campaign. However, if you've seen any of the TV ads - there are four different ones for tomato soup, ketchup, baked beans and spaghetti, and one to come for salad cream - you'll remember them because they are extremely intense.
The essence of the campaign, Heinz explains, is to show that its products still lie at the heart of family life, but also that family life has changed from the days when parents and children always sat down to dinner together. So with the soup ad, for example, a father arrives home from his shift after the kids have gone to bed and he stares dreamily at their football to remind himself that the time he spends with them makes everything else worth while. Just then the soup is served and the message of comfort and warmth is reiterated.
An exercise in social realism, then, as well as emotion. But what troubled me, as the ad unfolded to the backing of the South African soundtrack, was the thought that at any moment the dad's reverie would be interrupted by the entire population of Soweto tramping through his kitchen, eating up his soup and swiping the football.
I must admit I didn't see the connection between the product and the music, and as it turns out I wasn't supposed to: the choice of backing track was governed as much as anything by the need to convey emotional intensity without using the same Western pop classics seen in other ads. Anyway, the music has done its job because by popular demand, the single is due out at the start of November - proving that it's not just "sexy" products which help sell CDs.
Chris Cleaver of Interbrand, the corporate identity consultancy, pours praise on Heinz for "taking an adventurous approach with a traditional product" and giving a new twist to its old values of warmth and friendship. The company, be believes, may well have started something - so how about it, Pot Noodles, the Three Tenors await your call.
CORPORATE investigators are supposed to be discreet and anonymous as shadows, so how come they keep having their cover blown?
Take Kroll Associates, the New York agency which invented the business during the mergers and acquisitions boom of the late 1980s. It is now doing a wonderful job of airing its dirty linen in public.
After a long courtship, Kroll was due to be taken over by the $2bn (pounds 1.3bn) US information company Equifax - ostensibly, in part, to protect it from the predatory attentions of the "big six" accounting firms. Instead, in August, it announced that it would merge with the Ohio-based O'Gara, which makes armoured cars, to form a $200m enterprise called Kroll O'Gara. Since then there have been dark mutterings from both sides about debt levels, and the exodus of Kroll operatives goes on.
Last month Kroll sacked its London-based European managing director, Arish Turle - an ex-SAS officer previously revealed by this newspaper as plotting a management buy-out. Then Mr Turle's putative replacement, ex-Serious Fraud Office lawyer Bill Waite, resigned. Now HQ has sent over "Norb" Garrett, an ex-CIA man described by some as "an all-round nice guy". As he tries to sort out the London operation, you wonder how nice he'll have to get to return the sleuths to the shadows.
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