AToMiC 2021: Culture Kings

Here is the work that fed into the cultural context and won over consumers with clever engagement plays.

Heinz on Film - Image 2

You are reading a deep dive into the insight and ideas that propelled the winners of the 2021 AToMiC Awards to success. For the full list of winners, visit the AToMiC website, and be sure to check back for more deep dives into this year’s award-winning work.

This story originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of strategy.

The Wins: Kraft Heinz Canada “Heinz on Film” by Rethink
Grand Prix; Gold Engagement; Gold Idea

Kraft Heinz Canada “Ketchup Puzzle” by Rethink
Gold Engagement; Gold Idea; Gold Experiential; Bronze Social

Trojan “Trojan & Chill” by Forsman & Bodenfors
Gold Broadcast Engagement; Silver Brand Content; Silver Digital Brand Experience

Trojan & Chill_clip

“S@*t, I wish that was my idea,” said every creative at least half-a-dozen times in their career. It’s a feeling akin to the Eureka Effect, except in reverse, sending tingles of envy to the brain of those who are only witness to – not the creator of – brilliant flashes of insight.

The well-documented outburst of regret/awe came up several times in the AToMiC jury Zoom room this year. That’s why so many medals went to Rethink. Much of the agency’s winning work helped embed brands into the cultural milieu and engaged with consumers on a much deeper level than most traditional campaigns.

Take the Grand Prix winner Kraft Heinz, for example. As it turns out Hollywood had been snubbing the beloved red sauce for decades. The condiment has had cameos in hundreds of award-winning films – from When Harry Met Sally to Groundhog Day – yet not once has it received a nomination from Tinseltown’s awards academies. But instead of getting even, the brand decided to get credit.

It was the winter of 2019. The public and press were gearing up for the red carpet season. And Rethink was backstage helping Heinz Ketchup finally get recognized for all that screen time. The agency spent a great deal of time sifting through iconic films to find the iconic sauce on diner tables and kitchen counters, adding every one of its “actor” appearances in IMDB.

The open-source film and TV database didn’t agree with Heinz Ketchup’s thinking that inanimate objects should be credited on the platform, as evidenced by its swift removal of the brand’s IMDB profile before it had the chance to tell anyone about it. It was snubbed, again.

So the agency took action to prove Heinz Ketchup’s actor cred and launched a video on Facebook that called on the public to help find movies that featured the condiment and leave the film’s name in the comments section. In return, commenters received free ketchup, with the agency crafting personalized responses that mimicked the movies being posted. The brand received thousands of engagements (52 times the average) – far more on social than if the campaign lived solely on IMDB.

“Heinz on Film” made getting snubbed by the Oscars a winning strategy and the brand saw a 350% increase in brand sentiment – an affinity score that Heinz Ketchup, as a 150 year old category leader, is constantly looking to maintain as it ages and is the reason it created the “Heinz Ketchup Puzzle.”

Once again jumping on a cultural insight that brings relevance to the brand, Rethink created an all-red, slow-to-build, 570-piece puzzle (mimicking the famously slow-to-pour sauce), helping people pass the time during lockdowns last year.

The advertising landscape at the time was bleak. Most brands had paused or completely eliminated their marketing in response to the uncertainty of the health crisis. Many released messages of solidarity, creating a sea of sameness, while Heinz Ketchup was able to stand out with a culturally relevant solution to stay-at-home boredom.

It started with 57 puzzle giveaways in 17 countries, which then evolved into 7,000 sold (within one week), raising $25,000 for Food Banks Canada and Feeding America. The product earned over 1,000 pieces of coverage, translating into 1.25 billion impressions. Most of all, it increased brand love by 5 points and sparked conversations that placed Heinz Ketchup deeper into the cultural zeitgeist.

But not every pastime like puzzling saw a resurgence during the pandemic. While streaming was up, sex among lockdowners was down. That’s where Trojan comes in with a film that encourages people to bump uglies (and reach for the category leader in protection while they’re at it).

The cultural insight here was that for younger people – particularly the target Trojan was after, anyone under age 25 – the modern code name for sex is “Netflix & Chill.” You watch a movie and then you hook up. Knowing that the pandemic was drying up libidos as fewer people were having sex, Trojan and its agency Forsman & Bodenfors created “& Chill” – a feature-length film made up entirely of credits.

While it began with an epic opening, the genre-diverse film quickly jumped to a scroll of post-movie credits, with humorous copy encouraging viewers to get it on. It aired on late night TV and YouTube, while a digital promotion ran on Amazon to drive sales, which it did. In a category that was declining, Trojan increased its sales by 8%, showing that even a 100-year-old brand can still be a part of the cultural conversation.