HEINZ GO & THE 57-STAR SPEEDRUNNING TOURNEY
HEINZ GETS ABSURDLY SERIOUS ABOUT SUPPORTING GAMERS
In this Brandcenter project, we launched the first annual Heinz 57-Star Speedrunning Challenge. The tournament also served as a product release party for the Heinz GO gamer energy pack, Heinz’s absurd but genuine response to the problematic G Fuel.
We reframed the brief in order to create a repeatable investment for Heinz in gaming culture, and to align Heinz's interests with the interests of professional streamers.
D&AD Young Bloods Heinz BrieF:
Bring Heinz into the gaming space
We took on the 2023 D&AD Heinz brief as a Brandcenter team.
The brief encouraged entries to replicate the success of Hidden Spots, where Heinz sent streamers a burger wrapped in a map with the level's best hiding spots so streamers could eat in peace, mid-stream.
Hidden Spots was a good ad, but presented challenges for streamers and viewers in real time (more on that in the 'Towards Better Brand Partnerships' section).
GAMING, STREAMING, MARKET RESEARCH, HEINZ'S HISTORY & EXPERT INTERVIEWS
HOW WE GOT SMART
GAMING & STREAMING
Our team came pre-loaded with 10,000+ hours of gaming experience. And we streamed enough Twitch to worry our mothers.
We figured an iconic legacy brand like Heinz would have an origin story that could inform how we approach this campaign. Boy were we right.
We looked into the state of advertising in the gaming space, Heinz's iconic campaigns, and dove deep into Kraft Heinz's 10-K filings.
We talked to streamers to get a sense of what makes for good brand partnerships, and what would make them mash the 'reject terms' button.
Trusting Streamers & Aligning with their brand will lead to better Results
Towards Better Brand Partnerships
Invert is a team leader of Emporium, a diverse group of pro variety streamers with a half-million followers. He guided us through the land of streamer/brand partnerships from their perspective.
Professional Twitch streamer and team leader of Emporium, Invert, was incredibly generous with his time as we worked out our strategy.
Over what became a 10-page email thread, he illimunated the good, the meh, and the ugly of brand partnerships.
He helped us realize that streamers have a lot of choice in who they work with, so brands better come correct if they want to keep working with streamers.
Viewers come to see the streamer, not to see what the brand told the streamer to do.
Work with the
To create a PR-able moment, we need to work with the assets of the streamer rather than against them.
Watching a streamer who never normally hides, or tries to 'break the game', or trolls people do those things in the name of Heinz will make the wrong impression.
We think an impactful PR-able moment would take advantage of the streamer's modus operandi.
Streamers know their communites, and should have freedom (with guidelines) to deliver the message.
Give Guidelines, Not Scripts
"[Streamers] know their community best, and trying to force them to do very specific, minute, detailed things can feel disingenuous and unappealing. Twitch communities are very open to supporting their favorite creators. I have a small community, but they always come out in droves to uplift any sponsorships I am a part of. I would lose that trust I have with my community if I said or did something I wouldn't do naturally." -Invert180
Brands need anti-hate speech clauses in contracts, and to recruit a diverse streamer base.
Anti-hate speech: Brands should use and enforce anti-hate speech clauses for the streamers and their mods. Brands can help make the world a better, less hateful place.
Equitable Representation: BIPOC and LGBT+ streamers report being overlooked for brand partnerships compared to white, straight and cis streamers with identical viewer counts. That sucks, and it's also bad business. Heinz can differentiate by placing itself in opposition to toxic gamer brands.
Some issues with "a moment worthy of pausing"
Reframing the brief, for the love of Streamers
This isn't a game
Pro streamers' livelihoods depend on viewers, and viewers disengage during pauses and ad breaks. To really have an impact, Heinz needs to look to be part of the game, not a break from it.
Streaming Is The
Creating 'a moment' is a challenge, since streaming isn't one community, it's millions of communities. We should look instead to create something iconic that ripples through gaming cultures.
Gaming is Already about Stopping, Resting, & Recharging
Reframing the brief, for the love of Gamers
Gaming Time is precious & most aren't binging
Gaming is an escape from real-world pressures, a time to connect with friends, and a lot rarer than we assume. Americans watch twice as much TV: 21 hours per week, v. 11 hours per week spent gaming. And 7-21 hours of gaming per week is good for your mental health.*
Let's Not Be the Parents Calling Their Kids to Dinner
Saying there's a community-wide need to 'stop, rest and recharge' will sound to gamers like shaming them for what they love. Gamers have a lot of practice tuning out anything that feels like condescension or paternalism.
Heinz's Roots in Valuing Peoples' Time
Reframing the brief, for the love of Heinz
Heinz has always known that our time is precious: Henry J. Heinz got his start 150 years ago bottling and selling sauces that would take people all day to make at home.
Let's carry that legacy into the next 150 years by valuing gamers' time, as well as their cultures and passions.
How can Heinz become the ride-or-die companion for gamers making the most of their precious time Online?
Which Brings us To Our 🔥Burning Question🔥
Another advertiser detracting from the gaming experience.
A partner known for fueling the gaming community on their terms.
The first annual global, 24-hour speedrunner tourney debuting Heinz GO.
Now You Might Have your own Set of Burning Questions
Such as: What is speedrunning? What is Heinz GO? There's a market for that? How will the tournament work? How will we measure success? And how does this all fit together for Heinz? Glad you asked!
3... 2... 1... Let's get into it!
Competing to beat a videogame (or reach a certain goal) as fast as possible.
What Is Speedrunning?
In 2021, there were
7 billion speedrunning views just on YouTube.
In 2019, one tournament raised $3.4m for charity in a single day.
Super Mario 64 remains the speedrunning game of choice to this day.
And there's a market for this absurdity?
There SURE IS!
We'll be competing with companies like
G Fuel, and have an opportunity to differentiate with a diverse group of streamers sipping Heinz GO.
We're Meeting a user need
There will be time for fries and ketchup later. Mid-game, gamers and streamers want clean hands and a quick pick-me-up.
with a sense of humor
The gaming community has an appetite for absurdity, and feeding that appetite will make Heinz the AFK choice.
the 57-Star Tournament
57-Stars: The world's highest-ranked speedrunners play Mario 64 to see who can earn 57 stars fastest.
Global Format: Every hour, for 24-hours, four speedrunners would face off. We'd start with streamers from the global east and move west.
Legit & For Charity: The Global Speedrunning Association will monitor the tournament, and proceeds will benefit charities supported by the Kraft Heinz Company Foundation.
The Prize: The winner gets $50k, but every streamer gets paid.
Benefiting the Kraft Heinz Foundation's charities.
Through live streams (5m) and residual views (5m).
to Heinz product pages from streams and promotions.
of Heinz Go and Heinz Go+ packages.
20% & x3
20% increase of positive sentiment on social listening, especially on YouTube (Twitch is harder to listen-in on with tools like Talkwalker).
Three times the engagement with Heinz on YouTube and Twitter during March - May promotion and tourney.
Why This Works for Heinz
The 'PR-Able moment' becomes a repeatable investment in a Large, Growing Community, rooted in
the DNA of Heinz & Gaming
It's rooted in Heinz's DNA: Heinz got its start valuing its customers time by making sauces that previously took all day to make. Heinz can meaningfully step into the gaming space by valuing gamers' time with Heinz GO.
It's rooted in gaming's DNA: Instead of interrupting gamers, this strategy works with gaming culture and passions to make Heinz the down-for-whatever companion with a sense of humor.
Streamers and their fanbases: The speedrunning community has its own comms architecture that is full of people like @Cheese: a charismatic, entertaining streamer who has built up a dedicated fanbase willing to watch anything he does.
It's repeatable! Heinz could do the 57-Star Challenge every year, and/or branch out into other popular speedrunner games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Crossy Road, Super Mario Odyssey, Portal, Roblox, and the list goes on.
Shaping the future of esports: Heinz has the brand equity and the opportunity to make consistent investments in speedrunning that go far beyond beyond an annual engagement spike. Heinz could become synonymous with speedrunning.
Gaming culture will soon be fully mainstream: Over the next decade, as digital natives become the dominant culture, people will stop saying 'esports' with any irony. Heinz - via Heinz GO - could become synonymous with speedrunning as it makes the turn from "internet famous" to a pop culture mainstay.
Here's to the next 150
of heinz in the gaming space
This group brainstormed together IRL for two full days (and many more hours on our own), and went through about four central concepts before ending up here. So it's hard to tease out where ideas came from because we all worked hard to make something we're proud of.
But! I wanted to be sure to give specific props to Christine Choe for the Heinz GO and Heinz emotes mock-ups, and to Michelle Chiu for the Heinz time tracker and countdown timer prototypes (there are really impressive gif versions not shown in this case study).
This is so cringy but I think my role was to turn research into inspiration, and lay out a sort of 'strategy storyboard' that we could all fill in.
A few specifics:
Expert interview: It was really @Invert180 who cracked the problem open for us, but I can claim to have found him and hopefully asked the right questions.
History: I also found the link between Heinz's DNA and gamer culture.
Dumb, but it was my idea to have the Heinz GO packet read "Not Ketchup."
Sources & Gratitude
Gaming's positive impacts on mental health: Jane McGonigal, PhD
Gaming time & TV watch time: the D&AD Heinz brief, and Statista, respectively.
Heinz origin story: "57 Varieties of Heinz," The Food that Built America podcast.
Nintendo's relationship with speedrunning: "Super Mario 64," 1Upsmanship podcast.
Thanks to @Invert180 (whose pivotal role is mentioned above) and @Dr3wbyDoo, fellow Brandcenter student (CBM '24) and Twitch streamer who provided foundational knowledge on Twitch communities and advertising relationships.