Heinz creates a stain-proof thobe

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The brand called for the help of technology to turn one of the most iconic pieces of clothing in the Arabian Gulf region, the white thobe, into an unstainable outfit that gives men the flexibility to enjoy their favorite dishes with all the Heinz ketchup the want, without worries.

To further increase local relevance, Heinz took on the challenge of solving a decades-old dilemma in the region: To keep your thobe impeccably white or enjoy food fearlessly?

Heinz has made strides in becoming more relevant within the Arabian Gulf (GCC). However, it’s still perceived as a global brand, making it harder to connect with the local audience–especially in Saudi Arabia, a market where you can find loads of locally grown brands in the condiment category.

“Heinz was a leader in the GCC market, but the brand’s image carried a certain distance to the local audience due to its worldwide fame. 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.” – Pablo Dachefsky, Wunderman Thompson Dubai ECD

Wunderman Thompson Dubai needed to find a way to show that Heinz deeply understood the needs and passions of Arabs when it comes to food and flavor. Therefore, the agency decided to associate with the Thobe, a cultural icon in this part of the world.

The thobe is a traditional white clothing, with every country in the region having its own version of it. Most Saudi men wear it for their everyday life, and not just special occasions. It has a unique way of being made; everything must follow specific guidelines, from the fabric’s natural fibers to the sewing process.

Keeping it perfectly white is a matter of great pride for men. So much so that most of them keep spare thobes at work, gym, and in the car, in case their clothes get dirty during the day.

So, it was evident that their favorite sauce, ketchup, couldn’t be fully enjoyed—to the point that many of them would avoid certain types of food when they wore the thobe. 

That’s when the solution comes in handy: Heinz’s Unstainable Thobe.

The perfect blend of tradition and technology in favor of flavor.

Heinz partnered with local tailors, designers, and textile makers to figure out the best way to create this innovative fabric. After months of discussions and conceptual development, the brand developed a protective barrier against ketchup and other types of stains.

That was applied directly on natural material yarn and threads before the fabric was even together. Millions of 40 nanometers-wide silicone filaments adhere to the material, creating a coat that protects it from spills.

The result maintained the breathability and natural feeling of the fabric, so important due to the region’s severe weather, and followed the traditional and cultural ways of tailoring a thobe.

Eating fearlessly.

Wunderman Thompson Dubai developed a campaign to promote the thobe inspired by the key benefit of wearing it: eating without any concern.

“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. For a people that is brave under so many circumstances, being afraid of ketchup just didn’t make any sense.” – Pablo Dachefsky, Wunderman Thompson Dubai ECD

Food is a central element in the Arabian Gulf, in the locals’ social life. Families and friends get together to share large, long meals that can last for hours. However, participating in these gatherings while wearing the traditional thobe can drastically compromise the experience, with some men even choosing to avoid some dishes and ingredients.

The concept of Eat Fearlessly works as a call-to-action to the audience, creating tension between product and command.

The thobes.

Heinz sent the first batch of the Unstainable Thobes to Criminal (InstagramTikTok), a Saudi influencer focused on creating content inspired by Arab culture, to try them in real life and promote it among his followers. 

Criminal will create a video showing the struggles of eating with a thobe and how Heinz’s Unstainable Thobe solves it for them. With an unboxing video, he’ll invite followers to share videos of their real-life struggles around food. Brand and influencer will choose the best submissions and reward them with limited edition thobes.

Name: “Unstainable Thobe”
Agency: Wunderman Thompson Dubai
Chief Creative Officer, MENA: Chafic Haddad
Executive Creative Director, Dubai: Pablo Dachefsky
Creative Director, Dubai: Tiago Bastos
Associate Creative Director: Marcelo Zylberberg
Senior Copywriter: Adham Abdullah
Senior Art Director: Jericho Dizon
Editor, Dubai: Avinash Kumar
Motion Designer: Aashim Kadayikkal
Executive Producer, BigFoot: Aly SeifElNasr
Producer, Melt Studio: Ibrahim Barakat
Audio production, BKP: Stella Violla
Strategy Director, Dubai: Mona Hassanie
Business Director, Dubai: Irmak Aktas
Senior Account Manager, Dubai: Natalie Michel
Social Media Manager, Dubai: Mohammed Adil
Marketing Manager, Heinz: Hachim Essaifi
Brand Manager, Heinz: Rita Giannelli
Media, Digital Head, Heinz: Rovini Illukkumbura