Heinz Taunts Chicago Hot Dog Stands With Another Clever Ketchup Stunt

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Look, it’s April Fools’ Day, and that’s the ideal time to address the latest gimmick from Heinz mocking the local custom of eating a traditional Chicago-style hot dog fixed with those magnificent seven toppings, a list of ingredients that proudly excludes ketchup.

Block Club Chicago and the Sun-Times did the grunt work of explaining the scheme last week: Heinz is trolling Chicago hot dog stands, like Superdawg Drive-in and Wieners Circle, that don’t top their dog with ketchup or carry Heinz. They’re placing boards that dispense ketchup packets on the sidewalk in front of the stands. They filmed a few testimonials and released a video about how great it was to have ketchup available and have a website all about it set to go live on Tuesday.

Per the news release, Heinz is targeting places including “the fast-food chain known for not serving HEINZ (you know who you are) to a local hot dog joint that dishes out hot dogs with a side of attitude.” The Sun-Times surmises that the McDonald’s at Navy Pier, which last year broke ties with Heinz after four decades, is one of the venues, and it’s easy to figure out Heinz is referring to the Wiener Circle. The dispensers will start popping up on Tuesday, April 2, and be up for a week.

Heinz listed a whopping 50 people who worked on this campaign, including three firms. In contrast, there certainly aren’t 50 people who work in Chicago’s food media to spread their message. (Although they folks tend to suddenly appear during events with free food — say a Boka Restaurant Group opening party. It’s fun to play dress up with the beautiful people.)

This is relevant when flashing back to Heinz’s 2017 campaign when Heinz unveiled ketchup dispensers branded as a new Chicago Dog Sauce. There was no shortage of coverage in 2017, unlike the present day. Heinz’s marketers patted themselves on their backs for an Adweek hit. But let’s go back to the beautiful people, Eater reached out to the Wiener Circle for their thoughts on the stunt. The team from Chicago’s most hospitable hot dog stand keyed in on the same private equity that backs both Big Ketchup and the nationwide expansion of Portillo’s. Portillo’s “coincidentally” uses Heinz.

“In the hopes of selling out our city just like Portillo’s did, we are trying to attract Bostonian private equity,” a statement from Wiener Circle reads. “From there we’ll get rid of char dogs and host a Bostonian sTEAm party. It’s been real Chicago!”

Like many stands that abide by the no-ketchup on hot dog rule, Wiener Circle offers a pump dispenser full of the condiment for fries and other non-tube steak use. The Wiener Circle team would later add that they’re going along with Heinz’s stunt “because we want to be Massholes just like Portillo’s.”

Heinz paid a visit to Superdawg in Norwood Park earlier in March for marketing photos for the campaign. Heinz is associated with Pittsburgh, but it’s also tied to Chicago as it’s part of Kraft Heinz; Kraft was founded in 1903 in Chicago. It’s nice to see corporations spending on advertising and marketing, something that was cut at the height of the pandemic. But the push by Heinz to colonize Chicago comes off as a little odd. I’m reminded of Chicago Academy for the Arts graduate Lara Flynn Boyle’s role in the original Wayne’s World. Sure, her role as Stacy — Wayne Campbell’s (Mike Myers) ex-girlfriend — is problematic. But it also depicts an unwanted relationship and what happens when one side tries too hard to rekindle something. It’s time to move on from Chicago, Heinz. We don’t really remember the good times or the bad times, just the times when we had to immediately throw our stained clothes into the wash to remove the ketchup stains. This is getting desperate, and I don’t always carry a Tide pen.

Then again, if former Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields turns into a Pro Bowl-caliber player with the Pittsburgh Steelers after his recent trade, Heinz will secure plenty of local support in the world to run a social media campaign with a triumphant Fields enjoying a hot dog bathed in ketchup. I can be No. 51 on your marketing credits sheet. Though, Dick Butkus probably didn’t like ketchup on his hot dogs, either.

Wiener Circle

2622 North Clark Street, , IL 60614 (773) 477-7444 Visit Website

Superdawg Drive-In

333 S Milwaukee Ave, Wheeling, IL 60090 (847) 459-1900 Visit Website

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