'Hats off to the Joy of Living' Campaign

The summer of 2017 marks the 90th anniversary of the launch of Heinz’s iconic ‘Joy of Living’ campaign. Heinz has supplied British food tables for over a hundred years and their many product lines are represented in the Heinz UK Archive held at the History of Advertising Trust (HAT).

Heinz has been renowned for sales promotion and advertising flair ever since the early days of the company under the leadership of inspirational American founder, Henry J. Heinz – himself the originator of the iconic ’57 Varieties’ slogan. Heinz Baked Beans were introduced to Britain in 1901. Initially the product was imported until the first British-made baked beans rolled off the production lines at their new Harlesden factory in 1928. During the Second World War baked beans were classified as an essential food according to the rationing system devised by the Ministry of Food.

1937 Heinz Joy of Living outdoor hoarding

The famous ‘Joy of Living’ campaign for the British market was designed to ‘better acquaint consumers with the values and virtues of Heinz Baked Beans’. It emphasised nourishment, no preservatives or artificial flavourings as well as good taste and value for money. According to a special British edition of ‘The 57 News’ staff magazine (Sep. 1928) the new campaign was officially launched by Harlesden’s American manager Charles E. Hellen at the Heinz Thirtieth Mid-Summer Convention held in London in July 1927 where: ‘the inherent goodness of the slogan combined with Mr Hellen’s delightful power of exploring and explaining the possibilities which such a campaign laid bare, were cause enough for that torrent of enthusiasm which swept those men from that convention to their territories, all out, every man Jack of them, to sell the “Joy of Living” to their customers’.

The genius of the new theme and marketing strategy was explained in the same article as follows: ‘To know a happy phrase is something, but to capture and adapt it for an advertising slogan is another. Alone, the “Joy of Living” is something abstract, something visionary and too intangible to have any very definite effect upon the mass mind. But linked up with another slogan, “For a few pence” we suddenly bring the world of dreams right into the world of actuality, and that is the psychology behind the biggest advertising campaign that Heinz British organisation has ever launched’.

Joy of Living campaign shop display

In addition to press ads and outdoor hoardings the slogan also appeared on bus sides and as part of promotions such as window displays, horse-drawn carts and special ‘Joy of Living’ weeks around the country. The campaign was directly credited with quickly increasing demand for the product with one branch general manager declaring that sales were up by a splendid 150% since a display based on the new theme and new uses for baked beans were discovered. For example, a Bolton manufacturer of meat pies was inspired to create baked bean pies which proved to be a big seller and a consumer wrote in: ‘Through seeing all these ‘Joy of Living’ bills, I tried Heinz Baked Beans with fish last night. I would not have believed the combination could have been so delicious’. As the uplifting conclusion to the article on Heinz’s British operation in ‘The 57 News’ summed up: ‘The “Joy of Living” is more than an advertisement for our Baked Beans. It epitomises the whole history of our organisation – a joyous march of progress, a joyous service to mankind’.

September 2017

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