Magazine article Marketing

Ketchup King

Magazine article Marketing

Ketchup King

Article excerpt

This week, after 120 years on the shelf, Heinz Tomato Ketchup gets something it has never had before, a personality. It will be tardy, disturbed, rude.

If Eric Salamon, Heinz European general manager corporate marketing and communications, realises his goal, it will also become a global brand icon on a par with McDonald's, Coke and Nike.

The surgeon in charge of the personality implant is Leo Burnett, which won the [pounds]60m Heinz worldwide brief in a two-way tussle with TBWA Worldwide last October.

The campaign is ambitious. It casts ketchup, always the Heinz flagship brand, in the role of trailblazer for the company's vision of a global strategy in each of its eight product categories.

Salamon is the man charged with making the vision a reality. He headed the think-tank of Heinz marketing executives who formulated the ketchup's global strategy last year. He ran the agency briefings and selection process in October and now he is the one clocking up the frequent flyer miles as he chases its implementation around the globe.

That is not to say that he is a one-man show. Salamon, by the accounts of those who have worked with him, is just about the perfect team player - empathetic, insightful, decisive and friendly.

Noel Magnus, communications director at Leo Burnett, gushes with praise for Salamon: "He is a gentleman. He understands people and has a natural empathy for their ideas." Most importantly Magnus believes that Salamon has an innate understanding of the 'it' of marketing. 'It' being an instinct for the right ideas and the right way of doing things.

"It is about risk reduction," explains Salamon. "We put our money in business because we are looking for a better return than we get from the banks. We get that return because the risks are higher. A marketer's job is to remove as much of the risk from that investment as possible."

For Salamon, the idea of minimising risk clearly doesn't go hand in hand with avoiding it. He describes the globalisation of Heinz Ketchup as the biggest step change in the brand's 120-year history.

"We had a brand that was fundamentally regarded as the best, but things change and we have got to continue to grow and develop and therefore you have to approach things differently."

Quick to smile and quick to laugh, it is easy to see why Salamon evokes such affection from those who work with him. He has a disarming ease and offers a balanced conversation. His enthusiasm for the task of taking ketchup global, and his belief in the concept behind the ketchup campaign, is contagious.

"We are trying to give it a dimension over and above just being the best ketchup," explains Salamon. …

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