Heinz Taps Internet for New EZ Squirt Ketchup

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H.J. Heinz Co.'s Heinz North America arm is using the Internet to promote its new Heinz EZ Squirt ketchup brand for preteens.

As part of a multimedia buy, the Pittsburgh food marketer has launched an online sweepstakes on The WB Television Network's Web site. This will be followed next month by a separate brand awareness push on the Cartoon Network's site.

"Our goals with the programs that we're running in January and February online are really to get kids to start interacting with the brand," said Kelly Stitt, brand manager for Heinz EZ Squirt.

Supporting the Internet push are two 30-second TV spots by agency Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, for children's programs on Kids' WB, the Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Fox Family, Fox Kids and ABC.

Introduced in October, Heinz EZ Squirt comes in a curvy bottle for smaller hands with a nozzle that offers better control and shoots a thin stream of ketchup, the company said, allowing children to draw designs on their food.

Aimed at children age 6 to 12, Heinz EZ Squirt also is the only ketchup with vitamin C, a key attraction for parents.

Heinz realizes that getting the word out to children is crucial, especially with first-year targets for EZ Squirt of 5 percent to 6 percent dollar share and 4 percent to 5 percent volume share of the $560 million ketchup market, which Heinz already dominates.

Key features of the online effort with The WB are a sweepstakes promotion called Squirtstakes and a free downloadable screensaver where children can search for animations such as a butterfly, wild squirting ketchup, ceiling spy and crumbling letters on a chalkboard.

The sweepstakes, on www.kidswb.com, shows a school detention room scene filled with characters from The WB's television show "Detention."

These characters can be painted using a Heinz EZ Squirt cursor. Users can choose colors and add pickles, onions and burgers around the scene. The creation can be scrubbed clean using virtual paper towels.

Children can send in their sweepstakes entries (parental permission is required) each day through Feb. 4 by logging on to the sweepstakes page on kidswb.com.

The winner will receive a free trip for four to Warner Bros. Studios and drawn as a character on the Kids' WB channel.

"With The WB, we're giving them essentially a virtual experience of the end product benefit," Stitt said. "In that WB promotion, they can go online and pick up a bottle of Heinz EZ Squirt [and play]. So the hope is that they'll find that to be a fun experience and ask Mom to purchase the real thing."

Stitt said next month's promotion on the Cartoon Network site, www.cartoonnetwork.com, will focus more on brand awareness.

"Cartoon Network will have a Valentine's Day push around the Feb. 14 time period, and kids will be able to get online and send each other Valentine's Day messages and there will be EZ Squirt branding there," she said. "[Also] in a color poll, kids can put in their vote for colors they'd like to see come next on the site."

TV channels on the Heinz media plan will help drive traffic to these online destinations. Burnett sister agency Starcom Worldwide bought media.

"We also ran a program in schools in November and December where EZ Squirt was part of the children's take-home menu," Stitt said. "And we're providing the school cafeterias with free product to experiment and have also provided point-of-sale clusters to hang in all the cafeterias."

The Internet is slowly gaining stature in Heinz's eyes. The company last week launched a recipe site, www.heinzflavor.com, in tandem with its TV spots and online sweepstakes for EZ Squirt.

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