Heinz's top North American executive said that a live commercial on the "Ellen" show last month for Ore-Ida produced record results. The integration backing the sweet potato fries line included a troupe of dancing fries and Ellen DeGeneres showing off the product.
The brand posted its best week ever in terms of sales when the show aired, followed by a 22% lift the week after the stunt, according to Scott O'Hara.
The integration, which lasted well over a minute, included Ellen giving audience members both fries and Flip cameras in order to make their own videos about the fries. "One thing I know about sweet potato fries is you can't just have one," DeGeneres said.
Throughout an address to investors Thursday, O'Hara continued to speak about the need to use social media to build an array of brands -- Heinz generates $4.7 billion in sales in North America -- noting that Facebook seems almost a requirement for any campaign.
The company, which has the huge ketchup brand as well as Classico pasta sauces, is increasing prices to keep up with rising commodity costs.
Also in the U.S., Heinz is looking to do more business with the growing Hispanic population. "The purchasing power of this group of consumers is growing dramatically -- about six times greater in the past 20 years," O'Hara said.
In Canada, notably Toronto and Vancouver, there are opportunities to attract more Asian customers, he said.