Heinz Meanz…? What The Heinz Ad Ban Suggests For Marketers

Heinz advert ban blog Blueclaw

The ASA has banned a Heinz advert because of the apparent safety risks that children face in playing with jagged pieces of metal. Thinking about this at lunchtime threw up a couple of disconnected thoughts about Search and Content Marketing:

“Health And Safety Gone Mad”

I wasn’t surprised to get 725,000 results for this search when I threw it into Google (inspired by the ASA judgement).

What impressed me was;

  • The Daily Mail wasn’t the top result
  • The Health And Safety Executive was!

This second one really surprised me. Okay, the HSE has a .gov.uk domain, so Google likes it a lot, but given the amount of online ranting around that popular phrase I’m still surprised that they have managed to take the top position in the first page of search engine results. It was particularly surprising given that the particular piece of content was seven years old.

Looking around the HSE website, it was interesting to see they’d developed a whole section on health and safety myths and myth-busting.

Google may love regular updates, but for this old blog post to perform so well just shows that there is also a lot of enduring power in a creating wealth of considered, quality content.

Although sadly neglected for many years (maybe they just got tired of hearing the same old stuff again and again), the HSE Twitter account was still referencing it today when people were tweeting about that Heinz ad ban. Lesson: old content can still deliver value.

For the record, this is what the HSE has to say on the advert:

HSE has always encouraged children to learn through play, whether climbing trees, painting with their hands or throwing stones into a lake, we want children to enjoy life and all the experiences it brings.”

So, that’s nice. Childhood wouldn’t be childhood without the experience of a couple of visits to A&E.

Banned by the ASA, watched on the BBC

As a result of the ASA ruling, the Heinz advert will no longer be shown on television.

Still, the agency behind it will still be able to show some great return on investment because the offending advert is now on the BBC website where it has been in the top three most popular bits of content for most of the day.

It’s also on websites belonging to The Telegraph, The Guardian, ITV.com, The Sun, oh everywhere really.

Now these latter ones are all commercial entities, so Heinz could have got on them via the original advertising route, but the irony of the whole advert being available on the advert-free BBC is a pretty rich one. Not only is it free coverage, but it appears the BBC are even hosting it! The license payer is footing the ad spend bill…

Whether you can describe a TV ad as content marketing is debatable, but in this case I’d say it is what it has become. Whether by accident or design, what was conceived as a TV ad has become a piece of content that is provoking coverage and comment across the Internet (with numerous links to Heinz and their Youtube channel, where they’re cleverly showing the “how to bang tins without cutting off fingers” version of the advert”).

Unless you’re Paddy Power, it is unlikely you’d put a brief together where the first line is “The advert should get banned” – it certainly isn’t behaviour you’d imagine a brand like Heinz would ever consider.

But this is the interesting thing about creating content – you never know where it will end…

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