Did HECK sausages create the ugliest football kit in Britain?

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Background

This is one of those “chicken or the egg?” creative moments.

I can’t fathom whether HECK Sausages decided to sponsor Bedale AFC when inspiration struck. Or whether it was roped into the sponsorship and thought it’d best make the most of it.

The reality is that I don’t really care which came first because the result was outstanding regardless.

The Big Idea

A year ago HECK Sausages unveiled what the media dubbed “the ugliest football kit in Britain” as part of its sponsorship of North Yorkshire’s amateur side, Bedale AFC.  To be fair, the news reports at the time were spot-on. It was the ugliest football kit in Britain, adorned with layer upon layer of (you guessed it) sausages.

What They Did

They decided to upstage themselves when they unveiled the 2018/19 kit.

Featuring a hotdog with a smear of ketchup and mustard across the front of every player’s shirt, the kit was sure to attract the attention of the Great British media and get football fans and sausage eaters alike talking (which duly it did).

With a pastiche of a Premier League club’s kit launch photography – moody players staring defiantly down the camera lens in front of an inexplicable dark and smoky background that has little (if anything) to do with the beautiful game – the whole thing is a wonderful homage.

And that’s why I love this campaign.

The Review

HECK has eschewed the messages it could have written into the brand brief (which could have read “tell people that we make our products in small batches, that we use the finest ingredients”).

Instead, it has allowed its behaviour as a brand and the “HECK way of doing things” to say all of that implicitly – and by making it implicit, rather than trying to foreground all of those important product messages, it has engaged a lot more people as a result.

HECK has created one of the most talked about kits of the season and has likely eclipsed sponsors who’ve spent considerably more on their shirt sponsorships. It has pulled off the same idea twice and has built an association and reputation as a result. It has been willing to have some fun at the expense of football sponsorship in general and, crucially, of themselves.

In Hindsight

Where can I get my hands on a replica?

Consistent deployment of humour is a way of creating truly iconic brands – think of brands including IKEA, KFC, Burger King or Greggs over the years. But it’s also one of the trickiest brand facets to get right. In part because it will always be polarising and in part because it requires a certain self-effacing approach that not every brand has the confidence to pull off. HECK got it bang(er) on this time.

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James Gordon-MacIntosh

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