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Mr. Rogers: Pittsburgh’s Beloved NeighborFebruary 11, 2015
A Marketer Ahead of His Time
Heinz was a brilliant marketer. He was always thinking of ways to promote his company and its products. He introduced the “pickle charm” to the world at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. That pickle charm evolved into the famous “pickle pin.” At that fair Henry was not happy to have his company’s exhibit on the second floor of the Agricultural Building. He felt it was too far away from the major attractions. To draw visitors to his booth he scattered printed cards all throughout the fairgrounds. They offered food samples and a pickle charm. It was a brilliant move because hundreds of thousands of people climbed the stairs just to get to the Heinz exhibit.
That little pin became one of the most successful promotional pieces made in the history of American business. It was basically free advertising. Heinz knew he had to distinguish his products from his competitors’ products. He made eye-catching labels for his products and advertised in a variety of places. His goal was to have his customers associate his products with high quality and convenience. In the late 1800s and early 1900s there were hundreds of tomato ketchup manufacturers in the United States. There were at least 35 in just Western Pennsylvania. So as you can see Heinz had heavy competition to content with. By 1900 Heinz was the biggest player in the manufacturing of ketchup in the world. Likely due tot he fact that Henry put his company name everywhere and anywhere he could.
In January Heinz’s salesmen would come in for a week-long annual conference. Heinz decided one year to use it as a huge promotional tool for The Heinz Company. There were 110 Heinz horses of varying sizes. They were all solid black except for two white mares. The horses were all outfitted with beautiful brass trimmings. The horses pulled 65 chartered, cream white, Pullman cars. Each car was adorned with green trim and displayed the Heinz name prominently. The cars were used to transport hundreds of salesmen from the station to their hotel. They were then greeted there by the H. J. Heinz Company Employees’ Brass Band. It must have looked fantastic to see the caravan of decked out Pullman cars around the city.
On their trips those salesmen carried a case full of Heinz product samples along with a hammer and a clean white cloth. The hammer was used to place Heinz signs while on their travels. They were also responsible for making sure that Heinz products were clean, and this is when the cloth would come in handy. Salesmen were instructed to kept products at eye level on shelves. They would sometimes move competitors’ products to a less prominent place on the shelf.
Stuck on 57
Heinz decided in 1896 that his business needed a slogan. The story goes that Henry was in New York in an elevated railroad train and saw an advertisement for shoes with the expression “21 Styles.” Henry thought this might be the direction to take with his slogan. Heinz Company produced over 60 different products at that time. However, the number 57 struck Henry as a good number so he created “57 Varieties” as his trademark slogan. it is a slogan which is still used today. On the neck of the Heinz ketchup bottle is a circle with 57 in it. It is also rumored that this spot is the “sweet spot” on the bottle. If you tap on the bottle there it will help the ketchup to flow out of the bottle.
By Diane Gliozzi