Heinz Meanz Blogz

Here’s how not to use the blog as a promotional tool:

New Media Age reports that Heinz is launching its first ad campaign for baked beans in ten years this week. The campaign, aiming to “reinvigorate the brand with a newer, healthier image” revolves around an “energy-packed ‘Superbean’ character who will have his own blog on a specially created microsite”, heinzbeanz.com. Apart from promoting the, er, nutritional value of baked beans, Heinz is also, gasp, “swapping the plural ‘s’ in the Heinz Baked Beans brand for a ‘z’, integrating the famous ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’ slogan into its first can redesign in Heinz’s 135-year history.” So now you know.

Sadly, though, the blog itself is a travesty of the genre. It’s viewable only in pop-up mode, which I suspect will not work with many browsers. There’s some Flash in there (a bean bouncing around a can), and frames to make the material itself virtually unreadable. The blog entries all carry the same date (today) as far as I can see, and are along these lines:

OK, listen, there’s something I’ve gotta share. I’m worried about your salt intake. Hey, the government’s worried about your salt intake, you’re worried about your salt intake! So what do we do? We cut back on the salt baby. I mean, we ain’t gonna tamper with the taste, don’t get me wrong. But since 2001 I’ve reduced my salt content by 30%.

Oh gawd. Isn’t there some law against this kind of thing being a blog? Or is the whole blogging thing going to be usurped by overpaid ad execs who think this is how to ride the blogging wave?

Branded Blogging – The Next Big Thing?

I spotted this a bit late, but thought it was worth throwing out there.

As you know, I’m a big fan of blogging, and while it’s not always easy to convince those higher up the food chain of their merits, blogs and RSS feeds are part of the future and the sooner we embrace it the better it will be for everyone. For an example of how mainstream they are becoming: I read on the blog of one of Jupiter Research’s analysts, Joe Wilcox (most Jupiter analysts have their own blogs, it seems, and they are quite prolific, in itself an interesting reflection of how blogging is seen in some industries as part of your work, not an adjunct) of the official Spider-Man 2 website of how blogging is becoming a promotional tool.

Not only do the production assistants have their own weblog (admittedly, not updated since May 2003) but they have a ‘how to blog’ page and, most importantly, a page of templates for bloggers. These templates, of course, all contain strong Spider-Man themes (templates are the layouts and backgrounds used on webpages, much like a template in a Word document.) The idea: set up a blog, promote Spider-Man along the way.

Good marketing tactic, of course, but also a sign of how, as Jupiter’s Joe Wilcox points out, mainstream blogging has become. If the big studios are starting to spot this niche, can the other big boys be far behind? Expect to see branding creeping into blogging, and creativity pushed a little to the sidelines. Not something I’m crazy about, but then what happens if content on a ‘branded blog’ displeases the brand owner? If I launch a Spider-Man templated blog saying how awful Spider-Man is, or using offensive content, how long is it before Sony Pictures start knocking on my door, or back off the whole branded blogging thing?