Heinz is now running the same ad campaign that Don Draper proposed to the company in the fictional television series Mad Men. The campaign will come to New York City in the form of traditional print ads and outdoor billboards.
Fans of the show may remember the episode when Draper and company pitched the idea of having ads for Heinz Ketchup that, radically, didn’t show the product. The ads featured close-up photos of a hamburger, steak and fries, sans ketchup, with the tagline, “Pass the Heinz.” In the show, the company rejected the idea completely, telling Draper it felt like “half an ad.” Now, in a meta-PR stunt, Heinz has adopted those very ads. The idea will be credited to both Heinz’s current ad agency DAVID and the fictional 1960s firm Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, further altering our sense of reality. Does life imitate art, or does art imitate life? Or do we all just imitate Don Draper?
Heinz’s Nicole Kulwicki said that even though the ads were created in a fictional 1960s universe, the message is still timeless. “Mr. Draper really understood the one thing every Heinz fan knows, which is to never settle for the foods you love without the great taste of Heinz,” Kulwicki told AdWeek. “What we loved about the campaign is that it doesn’t require paragraphs of copy to explain it. It features mouthwatering food images, and all that’s missing is the Heinz.”
Anselmo Ramos, creative director of DAVID (Heinz’s actual ad agency), said, “Don did a great job. This is just 100 percent on-brand positioning. It is about never settling.” Ramos, who we assume is a sane, intelligent man, continued in this strange, Don-is-real manner, saying, “As you can imagine, the creatives here are really happy to see their names next to Don Draper and Matt Weiner. They’re like, ‘Oh my God, we’re collaborating with them?’” (For the record, Ramos does, at one point, acknowledge to AdWeek that Don does come from a completely fictional agency.)
To sum it up, the whole ad campaign is a tongue-in-cheek gag bit for Mad Men fans. It’s the 10-year anniversary of the show’s premiere date, so the throwback seems fitting. And honestly, the ads aren’t half-bad. But for the love of God, can we not pretend that Don Draper is real? Our sense of reality is already feeling shaky this year and we’ve been feeling a little bit on edge, okay??? Let’s just keep our misogynistic 1960s ad men where they belong—in the goddamn past.