If you head over to the Heinz Ketchup Facebook Page you will find out about the Limited Edition Balsamic Vinegar range that Heinz are launching today. Just over 1 Million bottles will be produced, however the first 3000 can be bought exclusively through Facebook.
Heinz have already shifted 500 in the first 4 hours of the site going live and looks like they may get rid of the rest by the end of the day. This follows other examples from the likes of Max Factor and Pampers who have trialled new product developments through Facebook stores to seed the product to early adopter types on social networks.
This kind of activity is clever for a number of reasons, not only through generating revenue (at just over £1 a bottle) will this activity likely pay for itself, but the network effect of fans recommending the product to their friends helps raise awareness and trial of the original sauce.
By way of complete guesstimation if you assume that each of the 3000 people who by the product create a social action of either liking, sharing or commenting about their purchase, and they have roughly 120 friends (the Facebook average) each - the activity could potentially quickly reach the news feeds of over 360,000 Facebook users. Add to that the coverage the activity will get and the reach becomes far bigger - all for an activity which will likely become cost neutral.
The recommendation economy is alive and well folks - not somebody pass the ketchup please?
UPDATE 07/03/2011 4PM: The campaign is being run by wearesocial on behalf of Heinz. They are also raising awareness by distributing the bottles to 57 (very Heinz number) food bloggers and celebs.