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You know ketchup is savoury, but did you know it's also a saviour? (For the ad world, that is.) Heinz said this week it will spend about $400-million (U.S.) on marketing during the current fiscal year, an increase of about 15 per cent from last year and almost 50 per cent more than five years ago. The company said the recession has eaten into profits because consumers are showing a preference for less expensive private label products over national brands. Are we the only ones thinking Heinz is missing an opportunity to remind people that, in tight times, they can always afford ketchup soup?

A rabbi walks into a bar...

Is altruism what makes ads go viral? In a study published in the online version of the Journal of Business Research, Ryerson professor Melanie Dempsey and Jason Ho of Simon Fraser University suggest there are four motivations that prompt people to forward content, which marketers would do well to understand. Among the findings? Those who cite either the need to be altruistic or individualistic tend to pass along the most content. We're not sure if that applies to our uncle's habit of sending us every joke about rabbis, polar bears and Lech Walesa.

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Twitter will make money. Really.

Here's an expression that fits into 140 characters or fewer: "non-traditional ads." During an appearance in Tel Aviv this week, that's what Twitter CEO Biz Stone said his company would begin offering marketers next year, though he provided no details. So far, the only ones making money with the micro-blogging service are a few individuals sending out pay-for-placement tweets on behalf of advertisers. (Until, that is, their followers realize they're being subjected to a stream of ads they didn't ask for.)

What's in Fresh's budget?

Congratulations to the folks at Fresh, the 10-year-old Toronto restaurant that began as a juice business and now offers a full menu of vegan hippie goodness. (Tofu steaks with a side of hemp seeds, anyone?) During a special event at Mercer Union last night, Fresh was named the winner of the What's In Your Budget? promotion orchestrated by the agency Elemental, worth about $300,000 in creative and media services. The restaurant is said to be thinking about using some of the pro bono work to expand into the U.S. via Chicago and New York. Careful, Fresh: in those cities, they eat vegans for breakfast.

We wish you a survivable Christmas

And happy Black Friday! South of the border, today marks the kick-off to the one-month mad consumer dash to Christmas, which means that it's not only the time of year that many companies make about 40 per cent of their sales, it's also when media outlets hope for a flush of advertising to save their own bottom lines. We think of it as the retail advertising version of Groundhog Day: If, by the time you read this, more than one American has been trampled in a chaotic pre-dawn big-box door-crasher incident - well then, oh boy, it's going to be a great season!

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About the Author
Senior Media Writer

Simon Houpt is the Globe and Mail's senior media writer, charged with covering the industry's transformation. He began his career with The Globe in 1999 as the paper's New York arts correspondent, covering the cultural life of that city through Canadian eyes. More

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