Heinz Ketchup puts QR codes on bottles to support veterans

Now in its second year, the Our Turn To Serve program will donate up to $250,000 to help injured military personnel as they return to the United States.

Next time you’re at a restaurant, the bottle of ketchup on your table may do more than just add flavor to your food. If you have a smartphone, it could help an injured veteran.

That’s because Heinz is partnering with the Wounded Warrior Project for the Our Turn to Serve project, through which smartphone owners can scan QR codes on a bottle of Heinz ketchup. For each scan that prompts a user to send a thank-you note to military servicemen and servicewomen, Heinz donates $1 to Wounded Warrior, up to $250,000.

Instead of a message in a bottle, you can send a message with a bottle.

This is the campaign’s second year, following a 2011 campaign that reached its $200,000 goal. Scott Bacco, Brand Manager of Heinz Ketchup, Condiments & Sauces for Heinz Foodservice says he expects the company to reach its donation ceiling again in 2012. It’s already well on its way.

Simple choices

Heinz partnered with the Wounded Warrior project in 2011 for Our Turn to Serve, but the project is really part of a long history of supporting veterans, Bacco says.

“During World War II, the company re-fitted part of its Pittsburgh factory to produce glider planes and parts and provided almost half of Heinz’s total food production to the Allied armed forces,” he says.

Bacco didn’t offer extensive details about how Heinz’s partnership with Wounded Warrior came to pass, but he said the company was looking for a way to honor veterans when “the opportunity to partner with Wounded Warrior Project presented itself.”

The project kicked off Oct. 5, 2011; this year it began Sept. 28 and the donation portion will last through July 1.

Bacco explains that the company chose to put QR codes on its bottles because they’re simple and effective.

“Whether it’s in a restaurant while people are waiting for their food or at home while they’re sitting down to the dinner table, a QR code reaches consumers directly at the point of consumption,” he says. “We hope that this accessibility makes it easier for people to get involved.”

The codes are on bottles available at participating restaurants and on bottles people can buy in grocery stores, Bacco says.

Other avenues

Ketchup lovers who don’t have smartphones can do their part, too, he says. Each bottle also has the URL for the Our Turn to Serve mini-site, where people can choose thank-you e-cards to send.

Folks can also participate via social media. For each Facebook or Twitter message people send—and they’re prompted to do so after sending a thank-you card—Heinz donates an additional 57 cents to Wounded Warrior.

“Last year’s program showed us that the Our Turn to Serve campaign is something that our fans can rally around and actively endorse,” Bacco says.

Changes and response

According to a YouTube video about the 2011 project, more than a half-million people scanned QR codes on Heinz ketchup bottles during that campaign. People sent almost 75,000 personalized notes to veterans. In that version of the program, Heinz donated 57 cents to Wounded Warrior for each note or “like” on Facebook.

This year, “likes” aren’t part of the equation, but Bacco says he expects the company will reach its donation goal, just as it did in 2011. In just a few weeks, people have already sent more than 76,000 thank-you cards.

“We’ve also seen thousands of shares through social media,” Bacco says.

Heinz’s initial Facebook post about Our Turn to Serve netted nearly 2,000 “likes” and was shared about 450 times. Subsequent posts have earned hundreds of “likes” and dozens of shares each.

Matt Wilson is a staff writer for Ragan.com.

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