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Gimmick or Genius: Heinz Packet Rollers

April 2022

This is a self-funded case study using our Innovation Testing solution.

When brands launch deliberately quirky and novel innovations, their objective is typically twofold; to get their foot into the news and social media cycle, while at the same time reminding people of what’s special about the brand. Sometimes — but not always — the innovation might even have a practical purpose! Heinz is no stranger to the unconventional, with their latest eccentricity coming in the form of the Heinz Packet Roller; a new way to extract every last drop of your favorite condiment from individual sachets.

Pocket-sized and shaped like the iconic ketchup bottle itself, the roller has a slot to slide a ketchup packet through, squeezing out all its contents. Smaller sachets became a staple as takeout demand surged amidst the pandemic (to the point of hoarding), perhaps suggesting the device has more substance to it than initially meets the eye. 

But what does this mean for the brand? While we acknowledge the roller is predominantly about having a bit of fun and generating some social media noise and buzz, every single brand experience plays some role in shaping and influencing brand perceptions.

We used our 3Cs framework to put the Heinz Packet Roller to the test:

  • Captivate: Be emotive; stand out and grab attention.
  • Connect: Be recognizable; synergize with expectations.
  • Compel: Be motivating; drive behavioral change.


The concept successfully delivered on its main objective of standing out and grabbing attention, being considered highly unique and distinctive. While some people found it amusing, others were more skeptical, questioning the need for the roller and how useful (or messy) it would be in reality.

Heinz Packet Roller - Innovation Testing - Captivate



The design of the packet roller leveraged many of Heinz’s strongest assets, specifically the iconic bottle shape and colors (including deep red hues and contrasting white lid). However, unsurprisingly, this wasn’t like anything people have ever seen before from the brand, subsequently lacking synergy with the things typically expected.

Heinz Packet Roller - Innovation Testing - Connect



The packet roller was considered clever and innovative, offering something new and different. However, while the convenience it offered was acknowledged, along with its ability to reduce sauce wastage, people didn’t feel there was a problem in the first place that required solving — particularly with drawbacks such as the practicality of carrying it around with you, and needing to clean up the saucy remnants left inside.

Heinz Packet Roller - Innovation Testing - Compel


What are the learnings for marketers?

This was a little bit of fun from Heinz, and certainly worked to put a smile on people’s faces and create viral share-ability. While being playful and showing that the brand doesn’t take itself too seriously can be an effective tool for building warmth and favorability, it’s important to note that it takes time to develop and entrench a positioning like this. Without the necessary context, marketing stunts risk being interpreted overly-literally, with confusion and negativity seeded as a result, and brand perceptions diluted.

It made us wonder, then, what the brand could’ve done to keep the device’s novelty-factor intact while at the same time building greater relevance. Given we know there’s a big consumer appetite for sustainability-focused initiatives (as demonstrated by Garnier’s Shampoo Bars), perhaps by focusing on how the product helps reduce the estimated 855 billion single-use plastic sauce packets consumed each year world-wide, it could help create the emotional appeal necessary to achieve widespread take-up.

Heinz Packet Roller - Innovation Testing - Cubery Rating

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