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Special Project

Special Project
From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

Adulting Sucks

Gold Honor in Product Feature Video, Food & Beverage


Task: Help Heinz launch its reformulated No Sugar Added Ketchup, made with the great taste of Heinz and sweetness from plants. 

Audience: Sugar Minimizing Millennials, health-conscious adults who scrutinize their sugar intake, habitually read product labels and, for any host of health reasons, have either had to give up ketchup or try their luck in the burgeoning but erratic “better for you” condiment category. 

Tension: As adults, sugar-minimizing millennials love the ketchup of their youth, but hate how much sugar it has. Since sugar is enemy #1 this limits their options for ketchup; each one feels like a compromise on taste. 

Insight: Cutting sugar isn’t a niche behavior, it’s a rite of passage for every adult. 

Cutting sugar isn’t a small “sugar-minimizing millennial” behavior, it’s a hallmark of “adulting,” a colossal, inescapable cultural phenomenon everyone has to go through as they get older. Adulting is hard work. It’s chock full of decisions to make, responsibilities to handle, bills to pay, meals to prepare (see: ordering in). In all facets of life but especially food, adults have to put duty before desire. Not anymore. 

Heinz No Sugar Added ketchup, made with the great taste of Heinz and sweetness from plants, can’t solve adulthood but can make cutting sugar a little easier. It might be the only part of adulting that doesn’t suck. 

Ambition: Position Heinz No Sugar Added Ketchup as a welcome break from adulthood’s many compromises.

Strategy and Execution


Cutting sugar is a part of growing up, and that sucks. But that doesn’t mean your ketchup has to suck, too.

This platform takes an annoying adulting thing – cutting back on sugar – and makes it a good thing that gives adults back one of their great childhood joys: eating Heinz Ketchup without any worry. 

The product and its key feature (no sugar added, only sweetness from plants) were front and center in all campaign touchpoints.

The campaign launched in September when the pain of adulting hits hardest: the summer is over, vacations are done, and adults across America are gearing up to power through the grueling fall to get to the holidays–which is in of itself another gauntlet of work/familial duties and responsibilities.

  1. Hero film: Our hero film was a :60s animated original musical that lured in audiences with familiar, innocent visuals from childhood, contrasted with lyrics inspired by real-life tweets and social posts about the real pains of adulting -- where there are fewer fairy godmothers and much more back pain. And it did all this while keeping the product as the hero. We launched the film across Heinz owned channels, OTT, broadcast and cinema placements to generate awareness. 

  2. Cinema: Our hero film then launched in cinema in November ahead of high-impact, highly-anticipated movie premieres such as Avatar: The Way of Water and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

  3. Influencers: Given their sway in the “better for you” category, we enlisted food-centric and lifestyle influencers to dive deeper into the benefits of Heinz No Sugar Added Ketchup and place it within functional “adulting” meal context.

  4. OLV & TV: We followed up with :15 and :06 spots on social, OLV & TV to reinforce our message across the board. 

  5. Owned Social: Finally, additional content went live in contextual places adults go to for food tips and tricks like Pinterest (recipes, etc) and Instagram (adulting meal inspiration) from our owned channels. We continued the adulting conversation organically on the Heinz Instagram through weekly “Adulting” quizzes to keep the product top of mind as an easy adulting choice. 

Given the cultural resonance and success of the campaign, we’ll continue to run the work through April 2023 in the United States on TV and OTT channels.


Business Impact: Our campaign led to a lift in dollar sales rate of +20% and an increase in volume sales of +1% in Q4 of 2022 vs. Q4 of 2021, a tall order given inflation and price increases.

Engagement Impact: 

Cultural Impact: The campaign resonated and made people feel seen, inspiring people to talk about the campaign unprompted. Real comments below:


Video for Adulting Sucks

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Wieden+Kennedy New York, Kraft Heinz


Entry Credits