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Mad Men: Did Peggy Channel DDB? Catsup vs Ketchup

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As we get ready for Sunday’s episode 5 of Mad Men I thought it would be fun to share an interesting sidelight to last week’s Heinz drama. SCDP and CGC both were pitching to take the prized Heinz Ketchup account away from their current agency, DDB.  A big risk for Don, a big opportunity for Peggy and the first time they went “head to head” on a major pitch. 

Don’s big idea was “Pass The Heinz.” Peggy’s campaign was built around a leadership positioning that Heinz is in a category of its own. “Heinz. The Only Ketchup”

Heinz. The Only Ketchup

We know that neither campaign idea won the account. My Blogcritics article, “To Have and To Hold” discusses DDB’s powerful work on the Heinz account and the strong realationship the agency enjoyed with Heinz until the business was moved to Leo Burnett in 1974. Ad Age published an interesting piece written by E.J. Schultz that fills in more details of the Heinz/DDB relationship.

It is very interesting that DDB actually produced a series of commercials that play off the “Ketchup vs Catsup” strategy Peggy pitched to the client. DDB created a very successful campaign built around the idea that Heinz was “The Slowest Ketchup In The West.” This campaign was running while I was working at SCDP and it generated very positive press and was featured on DDB’s show reel. Heinz was the ketchup “good guy” up against the ordinary catsup “bad guys”. This clever device was used as the way to demonstrate the superior thickness and richness of Heinz compared to thin and runny competitive catsups. 

One of the best commercials in this series is the “Saloon” spot that pits our Heinz hero against a saloon full of catsup gunslingers waiting to take him down. Simply produced, “Saloon”uses the classic cliche trappings of the Western genre that was very popular at the time with shows like Gunsmoke and Bonanza. This is a great example of bringing a product demonstration to life in smart and entertaining way in the context of an overall campaign idea. DDB was famous for this kind of innovative creative work. I hope you enjoy the spot as much as I do.


Stay tuned for my review of episode five.

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About Hank Wasiak

Hank Wasiak is a communications industry leader and partner at the creative hot shop, The Concept Farm. Hank began his advertising career in 1965 as a real Mad Man at Benton & Bowles. He is a best selling author, teacher, motivational speaker and three time Emmy award winning television host. Hank and Dr. Kathy Cramer created a best selling business - self help book series based on Asset-Based Thinking published by Running Press. Hank also is an Adjunct Professor at USC's Marshall School Of Business.
  • What an adorable ad, I love how the bottles walk. In agreement, “Pass the Heinz” was the better pitch, but oh well, the client wants what he wants. Wondering what pitch Heinz DID end up buying in the show – hoping they’ll reveal it tonight.

  • Hank Wasiak

    Thanks Betsy. I hope they reveal it as well tonight or in another episode. Hope we see some Don and Peggy interaction as well.

  • Tom Prendergast

    I am happy, Hank, that you are still proud of the work done back in those days. Were you working on VW at the time?

  • Hank Wasiak

    Thanks Tom…no I was working on Gillette and a few other accounts.
    Very proud of work we had done. Great creative environment to have worked in. You should be proud as well.

  • UmIsThisThingOn

    I know I’m late to the party, but I’m just catching up on MM S6 now. When Don brought out his pitch for ‘Pass the Heinz’ I could have sworn that it was a real ad from the past. Maybe my subconscious is playing tricks on me?

    Also, you stated “This campaign was running while I was working at SCDP”. Did you mean to say DDB?