Following the success of Heinz’s “Draw Ketchup” campaign last year, where the creative agency Rethink hosted a social experiment that saw participants draw Heinz bottles when asked to “draw ketchup,” the condiment giant has followed up the campaign with a futuristic, cutting-edge next step. Using the DALL-E 2 image-generating AI system, Rethink and Heinz sent prompts, such as “ketchup bottle stained glass” and “ketchup bottle in psychedelic art,” to an AI and have produced pieces of art.
This latest campaign development is inspired by the recent rise in popularity of AI in all kinds of online creative communities; you can’t scroll through Twitter or Instagram without seeing someone’s latest AI-generated masterpiece, a short story… or, sadly, a monkey-based NFT. Artificial intelligence systems and online tools such as DALL-E and Midjourney have provided users with hours of entertainment in recent months, allowing people without artistic ability or resources themselves to produce seemingly drawn works of art. straight from their imagination. Especially for the lucky few who have access to the enhanced capabilities of the recently updated DALL-E 2, the results can be awfully good…or just plain scary.
LBB’s Ben Conway sat down with Jacqueline Chao, Senior Brand Communications Manager at Heinz, and Geoff Baillie, Associate Creative Director at Rethink, to discuss how they used DALL-E 2 to “draw ketchup “, why this brand platform showcases the “strong emotional connection” Heinz lovers have with the brand, and how AI could one day be implemented “everywhere there is a need to explore and create visual concepts”.
LBB> Just to take a look at the history of “Draw Ketchup” – what was your reaction to how the public and the advertising world reacted to the original campaign? What do you think touched people and made him so popular?
Jacqueline > Last year we conducted a social experiment and asked people around the world to “draw ketchup” and our intuition was proven when they all drew Heinz. We were overwhelmed with the reaction to “Draw Ketchup”. The positive response from consumers and the advertising world not only proved the instinctive association between ketchup and Heinz at a consumer level, but also highlighted the strong emotional ties to our brand beyond how we satisfy appetites. Heinz ketchup fans are passionate about ketchup and rarely miss an opportunity to engage with the brand.
LBB> This AI idea is such a natural evolution of “Draw Ketchup” – when did discussions start about doing another iteration of this campaign? Where did the initial spark to use AI come from?
Jacqueline > Since innovation is always at the forefront of everything we do, when we saw AI image generation quickly becoming the latest viral sensation and people took to social media to discuss the alarming accuracy of AI drawings, we quickly knew we had to test this as we did with ‘Draw Ketchup’. Heinz always strives to move at the speed of culture and this is just another example of how we are pushing the boundaries and looking for ways to engage our fans in innovative ways.
LBB> How was the collaboration process between Heinz and Rethink? Is there a balance between Heinz providing memoirs and Rethink pitch ideas?
Jacqueline> Together, with the support of all of our agencies, we deliver exciting, unique Heinz concepts and strategies. This is exactly the type of work we love to create together, and having partners who can help us uncover culturally relevant moments and generate intelligent, groundbreaking ideas is essential to continuing to engage our fans and remain an iconic brand.
Geoff> You couldn’t ask for a better partner. Heinz always encourages the most innovative and exciting ideas, and pushes us to make those ideas even better. Every campaign we’ve done with them has been a creative collaboration. And it’s not just a dream customer, it’s a dream brand. We always strive to ground our insights and ideas in brand truths, and working with a brand as iconic as Heinz makes it easy.
LBB> For the uninitiated, could you explain the process of using DALL-E 2 to create art and how the end result is produced?
Geoff > DALL-E 2’s artificial intelligence has been trained to recognize different styles of art, objects and compositions, allowing you to request something that could never have existed before – for example, you might have a “Van Gogh‘s painting of Marilyn Monroe in space” – and he recognizes these individual components and puts them together. When it comes to Heinz, we researched ketchup bottles in different styles and scenarios – “Ketchup in Space”, “Ketchup bottle stained glass” and “Ketchup bottle in psychedelic art” are just a few examples. It helps to try out many different styles and scenarios to get the best variety of images.
LBB> When did you first have access to DALL E 2 and what were the most interesting and exciting experiences and discoveries you made with this technology? Is this the future of creativity?
Geoff > Everyone felt that these text-to-image generators were something special, especially DALL E 2’s program. Before we dive into developing the AI ketchup campaign, we had a little fun with the program. Playing with the creation of bizarre images, we realized how sophisticated this technology was. When it comes to integrating artificial intelligence and creativity, we believe this is just the beginning.
The future is just around the corner. Wherever there is a need to explore and create visual concepts, AI could one day be implemented. As it grows and becomes more advanced, we believe it will be similar to Photoshop or 3D printing – a technology tool that helps creatives and brands express themselves and bring their ideas. It’s already happening with artists and campaigns like ours, but there’s so much room for it to be applied.
LBB> How long was the process of researching and playing with DALL-E before knowing how it reacted best to prompts? What is the most efficient way to use an AI for image generation?
Geoff > It’s quite user-friendly, so it didn’t take too long to get used to. But it helped to learn from AI artists and resources that the AI art community shares online. It’s so new that it feels like the whole world is learning together. There are many ways to do magic, but we’ve found that the most effective method is to start with simple prompts and go from there.
LBB> How did you react to seeing DALL-E 2’s ketchup art generations for the first time? Have you followed the online craze for AI art?
Jacqueline> Watching these unique and surreal images created in seconds was extremely impressive. We’ve long said that when people think of ketchup, they think of Heinz. DALL-E 2’s creations proved that no matter what we asked for or how many different variations we tested, even the AI knows that when it comes to ketchup, it has to be Heinz.
LBB> What was your favorite prompt/image set and why?
Jacqueline > It’s hard to choose favorites because we all loved them, but the images: the bottle in a swimming pool, the ketchup bear and the vaporwave ketchup were top notch; they all look distinctly different, yet remain quintessential Heinz. Looking at these images, we see a lot of Heinz(isms). They’re not totally perfect, but whether it’s the keystone label or our signature slow pour glass bottle, there’s no doubt that our distinct brand elements are incorporated.
LBB> This time around, the public can get involved by sending AI prompts to Heinz’s Twitter account – how important is this aspect of the campaign?
Jacqueline> We used DALL-E 2 – one of the most advanced AI image generators available. DALL-E 2 is far more advanced than most other AI generators people use, but not everyone has access to it yet. By asking our fans to tell us what other AI ketchup creations they would like us to try and by sharing the most unique and interesting results on our social media, we are giving ketchup fans the opportunity to try DALL- E 2 by themselves.
LBB> From a brand perspective, what does it mean to have such a strong identity and recognition? After all, HEINZ is practically synonymous with ketchup – what does this leverage allow you to do in terms of marketing?
Jacqueline > We’ve long said that when people think of ketchup, they think of Heinz, and now we know something as unbiased as AI does too. It’s very clear that Heinz Ketchup has strong brand affinity globally, as campaigns such as Draw Ketchup and Heinz Hot Dog Pact resonate internationally. This allows us to leverage our status as the most iconic ketchup to create innovative programs people can connect with, keeping Heinz top of mind with consumers and culture.
LBB> Do you plan to extend this campaign further? Will we see more iterations of “Draw Ketchup” in the months and years to come?
Jacqueline > At Heinz, we’re always looking for ways to bring creativity and culture to the forefront of our campaigns in a contextual way. In any campaign, we seek to find the right intersection between our brand and the relevant culture to drive consumer engagement. Our goal is to insert our brands at the speed of culture and discover unique ways to engage fans in territories that belong entirely to Heinz. So if there’s an opportunity to build on that idea in a way that resonates with the current moment, that’s definitely something we’ll continue to explore.