In 2022, Heinz decided to branch out into tomato pasta sauces, looking to shake up a category dominated by own-label. The launch generated buzz and talkability, but Heinz’s marketers believed there was room to expand.
On a mission to accelerate brand and category growth, the team wanted to keep Heinz’s pasta sauces firmly in the public consciousness. Inspiration came from social media and the enduring trend for ‘penne alla vodka’ first sent viral by model Gigi Hadid two years earlier.
However, while Heinz was well known for its tomatoes, the company had no credibility in the drinks industry.
The team was convinced vodka giant Absolut would be the perfect partner, presenting an “iconic brand” on a par with Heinz. Believing the campaign idea should relate to Absolut’s print campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s, the creative merged Heinz’s ‘Ridiculously late, ridiculously good’ launch advert with Absolut’s old-school ads to unite both brands.
Not only did the limited-edition tomato vodka pasta sauce sell more than 55 units per store per week compared to a category average of seven, the range overtook ketchup to become Heinz’s top-selling product.
The campaign stoked social media buzz, with #AbsolutelyHeinz notching up 6.6 million TikTok views and more than 200 influencers asking to be involved. Heinz claimed a 24% market share during the launch period, making it the leading supermarket pasta sauce brand.
Winner of the 2023 Marketing Week Award for Sponsorship and Partner Marketing, the Heinz and Absolut tie-up delivered a 52% sales uplift across the pasta sauce range, selling out both online and in-store.