Heinz Just Approved Ads From “Mad Men,” and That’s a Good Thing

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In this case, advertising imitates art.

AdWeek reports that Heinz has approved ads that were originally presented on the TV series Mad Men.

In season 6 of that show, set in 1968, Don Draper pitches a series of print ads to Heinz execs.  The ads are novel in that they don’t show ketchup at all – only foods that are wanting it.  As Don tells the Heinz execs, “The greatest thing you have working for you… is the imagination of the consumer.”

The clients react as you might expect: “It feels like half an ad,” and “I think I still want to see our bottle.”

Now, these ads have been recreated, and will appear on billboards, print and social media.  The ads are winkingly credited to both David Miami (Heinz’ real-life ad agency) and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (the fictional Mad Men firm).

So why is this a good thing?

Not because these are mind-blowing pieces of creative, though I’d judge them as solid.  And not because of the press they’re receiving, though that’s some nice topspin.

It’s a good thing because it reminds us:

Ideas can come from anywhere.

Think about it: For these ads to see the light of day, someone at either Heinz or David Miami had to say, “Y’know, there’s an idea out there that didn’t come from the minds of anyone in this room, but I think it works.”

That’s an act of courage – one that simply wouldn’t happen in many organizations.

Back in the ‘90s, the Eureka! Ranch conducted pioneering research into the group brainstorming process.  Among the key findings: There was no meaningful correlation between a person’s position on the organizational chart, and the quality of the ideas that person generated.

In fact, the SVP can actually stifle idea generation, especially to the extent that he A) clings to sacred cows or B) throws his weight behind only his own ideas.

That was a powerful early lesson for me, and one that’s been reinforced many times since.  Including by Heinz this week.

Brand leaders, remember:

It’s NOT your job to have all the big ideas yourself.

It IS your job to recognize big ideas and bring them to life.

It’s not about ownership.  Grab the good ideas wherever you can find them.

It's NOT your job to have all the big ideas yourself. It IS your job recognize big ideas and bring them to life. Click To Tweet

About Matthew Fenton: Matthew helps challenger brands to focus, grow and win.  Since founding his consultancy, Three Deuce Branding, in 1997, he’s helped hundreds of brands to achieve “brand clarity.”  His consulting services and speaking engagements help brands to focus on what matters through positioning, strategy and ideation.  Contact Matthew here.  He’s based near Portland, in Oregon wine country.

Copyright 2017 – Matthew Fenton. All Rights Reserved. You may reprint this article with the original, unedited text intact, including the About Matthew Fenton section.