Heinz has increased its Facebook likes by 40,000 since telling the New York Times three weeks ago that it would exclusively sell a new product for a limited time on the social site. For social media marketers, it seemed like a brilliant play. But then a major hiccup ensued earlier this week.
When Heinz Tomato Ketchup Blended with Balsamic Vinegar became purchasable on Heinz's Facebook page Monday morning, the e-commerce app malfunctioned and didn't work until 9 p.m. Many consumers complained on the page about the glitch, so Heinz had to scramble.
Since the snafu, the Sharpsburg, PA-based company's social media team has authored some 600 posts to consumers on the site, addressing negative questions and positive remarks alike. Consumers have been largely appreciative of the efforts.
Here's one gripe, written by an "Elaine": Yep - got halfway through .... Then, was kicked out .... Argh!
Heinz's response: Hi Elaine, We are working through one last issue. We apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you for your continued patience.
"Elaine" went on to Like Heinz's response post.
In a statement Monday, the brand said, "Heinz deeply regrets the inconvenience and we are expressing our thanks to Heinz Ketchup fans by offering one free bottle of Heinz Ketchup blended with Balsamic Vinegar plus free shipping to every consumer that posted on the site when it was down temporarily on Monday…. The Facebook page is open for orders and we will be shipping more than 16,000 bottles to eager fans based on orders from the past 36 hours." Heinz also offered free bottles to fans who placed orders when the e-commerce functionality was working.
According to the Times article, Heinz plans to heavily lean on Facebook to drive brand awareness for the new vinegar-flavored ketchup. The brand is employing creative that depicts the product as sophisticated, using copy such as "haute dog," "hamburgeur," and "French frites".
The Facebook-only product launch follows a similar effort the CPG firm deployed last summer in the U.K. for a barbeque sauce. A Heinz spokesperson told ClickZ News that the newest social-focused effort was the first of its kind for the brand in the U.S. The rep said the offer is available as long as supplies last before the product hits the stores in late December.
The ketchup costs $2.49 a bottle on Facebook, with shipping adding a couple extra dollars. The brand currently has 865,000 likes on the site.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT