Expos create opportunities for businesses to stand out. They provide a unique platform to showcase new products, to measure up the competition, to be in direct contact with consumers and to test new tactics. For one particularly well-known company – Heinz – three Expos in the late 19th century marked the expansion of the small-scale family firm to a global player.
Not initially one of the main Heinz products, the now world-famous Tomato Ketchup was developed over years. A few years after the company was created, Heinz participated at Expo 1876 Philadelphia, introducing a range of products including what was then called tomato and walnut ‘catsups’. Later at Expo 1889 in Paris, Heinz demonstrated its appetite for international expansion, and won a Grand Prix for its relish.
But it was only in the early 1890s that the successful combination of the keystone label, neckband, screwcap and octagonal bottle was developed, and at Expo 1893 Chicago (pictured), that Heinz sought to place Ketchup on the centre stage. Situated in the Expo’s Agricultural Pavilion, the company wished to offer samples to all visitors. It faced one problem, however, its poor location, on the second floor of the pavilion and away from the crowds.
As a result, the company created an incentive: throughout the Expo site, coupons were given out to visitors, promising them a gift at the Heinz stand. The campaign was a real success, with thousands flocking to the stand to claim their gift – a Heinz ‘pickle pin’ – and to try the Ketchup from the iconic bottle. By the end of Expo 1893, one million pins had been given away, helping to cement the brand’s reputation among the American – and global – public. By 1896, the company had opened new agencies in London, Antwerp and Sydney, and by the early 20th century, Heinz had become the largest producer of tomato ketchup.
The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) is the intergovernmental organisation in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos, Specialised Expos, Horticultural Expos and the Triennale di Milano.