Heinz appeals to Middle Eastern ketchup fans with a stain-resistant 'thobe'

The brand partnered with Wunderman Thompson Dubai to develop an unstainable version of the white robe often worn by Arab men

Published On
Oct 05, 2022
A man dressed in a white thobe squirts ketchup messily onto a burger

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Anyone who loves ketchup knows the perils of eating it while wearing white. That inspired Heinz when creating a new campaign designed to appeal to fans of the condiment in the Middle East. 

In the Arabian Gulf, many men dress in long, loose robes called "thobes" that are often white, leaving them especially susceptible to stains when eating certain foods. Heinz teamed up with agency Wunderman Thompson Dubai to help solve this problem, creating an "impossible-to-stain" thobe. 

The brand launched the campaign last week after collaborating for months with tailors, clothing designers and textile makers in the region to develop a new fabric that resists stains from Heinz ketchup, among other foods. The thobe at the heart of the campaign is crafted using a fabric coated with a microscopic layer of silicone that prevents liquids, including sauces like ketchup, from sinking into the fabric. 

“Stains can be removed with just a tilt of the cloth and a splash of water,” a statement from Heinz and Wunderman Thompson Dubai claims.

In Saudi culture, most men wear thobes on a daily basis, and maintaining the pristine white color of one’s thobe is a reflection of personal pride, the statement said. Men will carry extra thobes with them or store an additional one at work or the gym in anticipation of dirtying their thobe, and will often avoid specific foods or condiments—like ketchup—that could leave stains. 

With the creation of the “unstainable thobe,” Heinz and Wunderman Thompson Dubai urge these men to “eat fearlessly” rather than avoiding messy foods. The social component of the campaign kicked off with a video on Heinz Arabia’s Instagram in which a man splatters ketchup onto the new thobe before easily rinsing it off with water. “Eating while wearing your thobe can be scary,” the voiceover says as the same text appears onscreen. “Well, not anymore.” 


A post shared by Heinz Arabia (@heinzarabia)


“Our idea was not to use innovation for the sake of innovation. We did it to connect Heinz to the region's pride in a relevant way,” Pablo Dachefsky, executive creative director of Wunderman Thompson Dubai, said in a statement. 

Along with social media content, the campaign, which runs through Oct. 15, will involve print and outdoor ads across the Middle East. Heinz is also partnering with Criminal—a Saudi influencer with 1.2 million followers on TikTok whose content focuses on Arab culture—to put the unstainable thobe to the test. 

The company sent the first of these new thobes to Criminal, who created a video demonstrating the garment's ability to prevent stains and issued a challenge to his followers to share videos of their own “real-life struggles around food,” according to the statement. Criminal and Heinz will review these submissions to select winners to receive limited-edition thobes from the company.


With this campaign and its solution to a common problem Saudi men face, Heinz aims to build a stronger connection to consumers in the Arabian Gulf, Dachefsky said. Although Heinz has grown more relevant in the region, many Saudi consumers prefer to purchase local condiment brands and consider Heinz an impersonal, global brand. 

“Heinz was a leader in the [Arabian Gulf] market, but the brand's image carried a certain distance to the local audience due to its worldwide fame,” he said. “We needed to help them show how rooted they are to this region, and tackling a cultural challenge seemed like our best chance to do it.”


Oct 05, 2022
Client :
Agency :
Wunderman Thompson-Dubai
Chief Creative Officer :
Chafic Haddad
Executive Creative Director :
Pablo Dachefsky
Creative Director :
Tiago Bastos
Associate Creative Director :
Marcelo Zylberberg
Senior Copywriter :
Adham Abdullah
Senior Art Director :
Jericho Dizon
Editor :
Avinash Kumar
Motion Designer :
Aashim Kadayikkal
Executive Producer :
Aly Seifelnasr
Producer :
Ibrahim Barakat
Audio Production :
Stella Violla
Strategy Director :
Mona Hassanie
Business Director :
Irmak Aktas
Senior Account Manager :
Natalie Michel
Social Media Manager :
Mohammed Adil
Marketing Manager :
Hachim Essaifi
Brand Manager :
Rita Giannelli
Media & Digital Head :
Rovini Illukkumbura

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