Heinz: A Pittsburgh Marketer Ahead of His Time
Heinz was a brilliant marketer, always thinking of ways to promote his company and its products. He introduced the “pickle charm” to the world in 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair. That pickle charm evolved in his famous “pickle pin.” At that fair Henry was not happy to have his company’s exhibit on the second floor of the Agricultural Building, far away from the major attractions. To combat that and to draw visitors to his booth, he scattered printed cards all throughout the fairgrounds offering food samples and a pickle charm. It was a brilliant move by Mr. Heinz because hundreds of thousands of people climbed the stairs to get to the Heinz exhibit.
That little pin became one of the most successful promotional pieces made in the history of American business and 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. To get an idea of the type of competition Henry had at the time, in the late 1800s and early 1900s there were hundreds of tomato ketchup manufacturers in the United States and there were at least 35 in just Western Pennsylvania. By 1900, Heinz was the biggest player in the manufacturing of ketchup in the world. Henry put his company name everywhere and anywhere he could.
Always looking to promote the Heinz Company, Henry decided to make January stand out when his salesmen came into Pittsburgh for a week-long conference each year. There were 110 Heinz horses, all of a certain size, with all except two solid jet black. Those other two were white mares. Those gorgeous horses were outfitted with beautiful brass trimmings, pulled 65 chartered Pullman cars, each cream-white wagons with green trim with the Heinz name visible on all sides. Those cars took hundreds of Heinz salesmen from the station, where they were greeted by the H. J. Heinz Company Employees’ Brass Band, to their hotel. The vision of these cars traveling across the city of Pittsburgh must have looked fantastic. When those salesmen were out in the field, they carried a case full of Heinz product samples along with a hammer and a clean white cloth. The hammer came in handy when they saw a place to put a Heinz sign and the cloth was used for dusting off the top of Heinz products on the store shelves. They always tried to make sure that their products were on the eye-level shelves and would sometimes move the competitors’ products to a less prominent place on the shelf.
Stuck on 57
In 1896, Heinz decided 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. Even though the Heinz Company produced over 60 different products at that time, the number 57 struck Henry as a good number so he created “57 Varieties” as his trademark slogan which is still used today. On the neck of the Heinz ketchup bottle today is the label with the 57 on it in a circle. It is said that that is the sweet spot on the bottle, and if you tap on the bottle there, it will help the slow moving, thick ketchup to flow out of the bottle.
The products bearing the Heinz name can be found in over 200 countries around the world. The company started with one product and has thousands today. The company employees over 44,000 full-time employees plus countless others who work part-time or seasonally.
Written by Diane Gliozzi
For other great articles on H.J. Heinz:
- H. J. Heinz – “To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success.”
- Heinz Ketchup – The Taste Loved “Round the World”
- H.J. Heinz – A Pittsburgh Legacy