After a positive pilot, Kraft Heinz fires up The Kitchen

The in-house social team is growing from five to 24 employees, including a new managing director and ECD.

Kraft Heinz Canada has hit on a winning recipe for social media marketing, and all it took was a little Salt.

The company is doubling down with a bigger investment in its partnership with Salt XC to grow its in-house agency called The Kitchen that is driving social for a number of its brands, including peanut butter and ketchup – making two key senior hires as part of a planned expansion that will see the agency grow from five to 24 FTEs.

Joining The Kitchen as its new ECD is Simon Au, who brings a decade of experience in senior creative roles at shops including Grey, John St. and Zulu Alpha Kilo.

Bianca Myers has also been hired by the agency into the role of managing director. She previously worked with Au at John St., but has spent the past two years as a group director with Lg2.

The pair enter an agency that operates differently from the other shops they have worked in, Myers says – and the change of pace is “very refreshing.”

“We don’t need to worry like other agencies about winning new business and new clients. We can just stay focused on the creative that we’re putting out,” she explains. “Simon and I want to raise the bar on that, and that’s the big opportunity with this expansion. We want to make sure that the work is incredible.”

In addition, The Kitchen’s team works in close partnership with Kraft Heinz, even sharing physical space with them, Au says. “We look at them as a true partner. They’re not our clients per se, we’re collaborating together.”

“It’s really rare to have this opportunity as a managing director where you don’t have to worry about profitability and pitches,” says Myers. “We just stay solely focused on creating the best possible agency and doing incredible work.”

In their new roles, Au and Myers are tasked with “elevating the creative output” of The Kitchen, he adds. Many of the new hires the agency is making are focused on the same mission; while the five-person pilot team was successful at driving social, the goal now is to put “some creative power behind it.”

“A lot of the time, people see internal agencies as not being places where you can do very creative work, but with this new system Kraft Heinz has the desire to create some of the same momentum that they have with Rethink,” Au explains, adding that the agency even has the blessing of Kraft Heinz Canada’s president, Bruno Keller, whose goal is “to make The Kitchen famous.”

The Kitchen’s Canadian expansion is part of a larger internal push at Kraft Heinz to adopt the model internationally. That push was a major factor in Salt XC’s recent expansion into Chicago, but the model is also being replicated in the U.K., Amsterdam and Australia, Myers says.

“Bringing these capabilities in house, not having to worry about billable hours and actually just working on the creative is very liberating, I think, to both sides,” she adds. “And it’s proliferating within the Kraft Heinz organization as they see success in the model.”