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Heinz and Mattel - Barbiecue Sauce and Kenchup

Entered in Single Post or Activation


2023. A year we’ll all look back on and remember for one thing. Barbie™. 

Fuelled by a love for an iconic brand that has heavily influenced popular culture for over six decades, the Barbie movie became the highest grossing film of the year.

In the lead up to its release (21st July 2023), engagement with the movie swelled. Brands from across the globe were looking for ways to capitalise on the hype. Cue stunts, merchandise and official products. It truly became ‘the summer of Barbie’.

For another of the world’s most iconic brands, Heinz, the opportunity to interact was too compelling to ignore, especially given the 155 year old company’s need to appeal to younger audiences to remain culturally relevant.   

Heinz’s goal was to create something that allowed it to stand out from the crowd, deliver mass engagement and get people talking. All whilst delivering an idea that would Heinz-jack the excitement fans had for the film, and that tapped into the brand’s humorous and witty style.

Simultaneously, Heinz saw a huge opportunity to link its brand-new global strategy - ‘It Has To Be Heinz’ - which had launched earlier that year, with Mattel and Barbie.

By combining the irrational love consumers have had with Heinz products, with the irrational love fans have had for Barbie, Heinz found the perfect opportunity to bring this to life.


The challenge - how to get Mattel to agree to a partnership one month from film launch when over 160 official global collaborations had already been secured? 

The answer - by building a simple but powerful idea that required a simple change of a few letters on our iconic labels, and adding Barbie’s iconic branding.

Introducing “Barbiecue Sauce” and “Kenchup”. A concept linking two icons of the Barbie brand, with two of Heinz’s most world-renowned varieties (BBQ Sauce and Tomato Ketchup).

To achieve cut-through and deliver success for both brands, in what had become a crowded conversation, we had to find the right moment and channel to make the announcement. 

Following an analysis of Google trends, the news agenda and close collaboration with Mattel, we witnessed a majority of brands jumping on the hype building up to release day. Searches for #barbie and #barbiemovie were peaking everyday ahead of release, topping the Google trends chart from the 21st-23rd July.

We needed to act differently to cut through the pink. We needed to go live when no one else would expect or activate, while also making sure we showcased our Heinz personality and tone of voice throughout. 

We decided our moment was two weeks after the film’s release.

While conversations and excitement prior to theatrical releases are strong, the REAL hype can come from what follows. Post-release is when public experience and reviews take over from the film’s own marketing programme and the critics. It’s when orchestrated brand marketing slows down and the REAL consumer-led irrational love starts. 

We saw audiences moving away from searching for what others were saying, towards sharing their own thoughts and love for the film through their personal channels. This gave us the moment we needed. The perfect space to launch our concept, generate a second-window of conversation and drive irrational love for both iconic brands.  

Taking this approach, we turned ‘Barbiecue’ and ‘Kenchup’ into fully designed visual concepts, providing an idea of what both products could really look like. 

But we really wanted to get people talking, so we simply asked the public whether we should make this dream collaboration a reality? Through this we created desire and put the product’s power in the hands of our fans. People want what they can't have, and we uniquely made them want something that wasn’t available. We tapped into their inner love of both brands to spark irrational responses.

By 31st July, Google searches around Barbie were under half of what they had been, dropping to their lowest point since the film’s release, but interest and conversation remained higher than average. This was our moment. 

1st August 2023: "Heinz is entering the chat” Should we make this dream team a reality? 💖💙 @barbie #barbie

With no warning, the post went live across 16 markets. Heinz UK, US, Canada, Ireland, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, UAE, Brazil, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt and South Korea.

What followed not only hit both brands objectives, it exceeded all expectations.


In total, the post delivered:

Most importantly fans, as well as other brands, LOVED it. We even had retailers from around the world asking when it was going into production, wanting to list it in stores as soon as it became available.

Not only had we inspired an outpouring of irrational love from Heinz fans, we had seen the same from Barbie and Mattel fans too. 

A single social post had provided an opportunity for Heinz to stand out within a global trending conversation, delivering on our goals, while also allowing Heinz and Mattel to go past their core audiences and tap into new cultures, new areas and new markets. Including some they had never reached before.

And the cherry on top? It became the only official newsjacking moment that Mattel collaborated on that hadn’t been planned months in advance, and cost £0 on production or media support.

However the big question we’re left with is will those dreams indeed become a reality? Only time will tell.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Heinz and Mattel


Entry Credits