Beanz Meanz Fortnum & Mason

A potentially old-fashioned mainstay uses windows to communicate its continued relevance
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Posted February 19, 2019

How can you take something that has heritage and tradition as part of its call to action and make it appeal to a new demographic? For one answer, it’s worth taking a look in the windows of Fortnum & Mason, the food hall (by Royal Appointment) and department store blend that has been a fixture on London’s Piccadilly since 1707.

With 300-plus years under its belt, this is one of the U.K. capital’s most revered (and most expensive) shops, the kind of place you go to for a treat and to buy some very upscale and beautifully packaged food, it does good business with visitors.

Yet while the tourist horde heads for this one and emerges laden with Fortnum’s tea, it still runs the risk of being accused of being a little, well, fusty. The current window scheme (as so frequently) puts paid to any thoughts of this kind.

On your side of the Pond, Heinz is a known and loved brand, and it’s no different in Europe. Yet, while Heinz ketchup is a staple of diners and restaurants for those with an eye on the bottom line, it is unlikely to take center stage in a posh store.

The Fortnum & Mason displays make Heinz the star of the show with one window featuring a giant ketchup bottle, another being composed of a wall of baked beans cans and yet another being filled with giant baked beans alongside the erstwhile advertising slogan, “Beanz Meanz Heinz.”

All of this is almost totally counter to what might be expected of a grand store. But it is the juxtaposition of the familiar and pleasingly everyday that give this one its power and ensures that this is a store that will be given the once over.

It’s a truism that those who seek impact do so by being different and surprising. It would be hard to think of anything more unexpected than Heinz and Fortum & Mason, but it is a powerful combination.

John Ryan is a journalist covering the retail sector, a role he has fulfilled for more than a decade. As well as being the European Editor of VMSD magazine, he writes for a broad range of publications in the U.K., the U.S. and Germany with a focus on in-store marketing, display and layout, as well as the business of store architecture and design. In a previous life, he was a buyer for C&A, based in London and then Düsseldorf, Germany. He lives and works in London.