business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kate McMahon

As the mayonnaise-mashup marketers at Kraft Heinz have learned, the Twitter universe can be fickle, and brutal.

Buoyed by the initial Twitter-fueled success of Mayochup, a “saucy sauce” combining equal parts of Heinz’ iconic ketchup and its new mayonnaise, the brand this month debuted Mayomust and Mayocue -- featuring mayo mixed with yellow mustard and classic barbecue sauce, respectively.

The response, in short, was #MayoFail.

“They were so preoccupied with whether or not they mayocould, they didn't stop to think if they mayoshould,” tweeted one user, who appears to be channeling the lessons of Jurassic Park.

“Let’s MayoNOT,” added another.

The name Mayomust in particular drew intense disdain, with critics claiming it sounded like “the Axe body spray scent I wore in middle school” and “the name of a pheromone rhinos give off when they're about to give birth.”

The Heinz social media squad did its best to post upbeat replies to the positive comments, and wisely ignored those which were expletive-laden or featured a clip of Will Ferrell hoarding his “fancy sauce” in the movie Step Brothers.

Ironically, it was Twitter that launched Mayochup in the United Kingdom and the U.S. The product was only available in the Middle East when a British shopper posted a Mayochup photo from a Kuwaiti grocery store.

Suddenly, Mayochup was trending in the U.K The Heinz team listened and moved swiftly, launching a Twitter poll last April asking if people wanted Mayochup locally or were content to mix the two at home. (It was also a timely plug for Heinz’ new all-natural REAL Mayonnaise, released just as mega-rival Hellman’s introduced its new, all-natural REAL Ketchup).

The poll received more than a million responses – 55 percent in favor – and a billion impressions in 48 hours. The launch generated more social media frenzy when Mayochup hit the shelves in September.

I give Heinz credit for leveraging the social media traffic quickly and efficiently, delivering the product to US stores in less than six months and continuing the dialogue with consumers about the Mayochup name and which cities would receive the product first.

This followed an admission by the private equity honchos who engineered the Kraft-Heinz merger deal conceding they learned the hard way that even legacy brands need to continually evolve; the newly combined company has struggled of late, largely because all the emphasis seemed to be on efficiency, and not on effectiveness and innovation.

In a LinkedIn blog post earlier this year, CMO Eduardo Luz said that "marketers are encouraged to take risks and try to achieve extraordinary things, as long as they have a solid plan backed by consumer insights.”

I would agree in theory, but would’ve questioned under any circumstances whether consumers are clamoring for condiments combining mayo with mustard and barbecue sauce. The mayonnaise-ketchup combo has long been a staple in Latin American pantries and is also known to many as “fry sauce.” While Mayochup could lay claim to consumer demand, Mayomust and Mayocue were developed in-house.

A recent vote on Twitter asking fans which product they were most excited to dip into broke down as expected: 55% Mayochup, 24% Mayocue and 21% Mayomust.

All of which begs the question: Just how many condiment choices can you possibly fit on a refrigerator shelf? Particularly when there are already a dizzying number of mayonnaise variations in every store – ranging from cage-free to extra creamy to olive oil to avocado oil with a hint of lime mayo. The vegan Just brand comes in regular, chipotle, sriracha and ranch flavors, and the fat-free Walden Farms Amazin’ Mayo even has a Pomegranate Mayo – which to be honest, sounds kind of revolting.

I queried the condiment-lovers in my family, and all concurred they would rather mix the mayo with mustard, ketchup, sriracha, A1, Worcestershire or barbecue sauce to their own ratio specifications to spread on a sandwich or burger. And they also responded: “Besides, there isn’t enough room on the shelf.”

That said, we all agreed to one exception: If the secret sauce that graces the In-N-Out burger is ever bottled and sold, there will always be room on the shelf.

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