Watch out ketchup – Hidden Valley is coming for you.

In a new, straight-forward marketing campaign, the purveyor of the famous ranch dressing is taking the ubiquitous condiment head on.

As you can see from the bottle above, Hidden Valley wants to be the “new ketchup” for the American consumer.

I like the aggressive messaging of this campaign, and I agree that there is an opportunity for the company. We all know that ranch dressing goes on far more than salads, and has been a prime dipping destination for chicken wings, pizza crusts, french fries, and other things, for a long time.

As a result, Hidden Valley has made a slightly thicker version, and put their white ooze in a squeezable bottle, hoping to appear within reach of both restaurant and kitchen tables in the near future.

However, while I think the idea and campaign have some potential, I have two concerns:

1. It is going to be hard to make ranch a success in restaurants because it needs to be refrigerated (the dairy component). Conversely, ketchup is far more liberal in the temperature department. That said , I have no doubt that Clorox (parent of Hidden Valley) has a team of scientists working ’round the clock on a temperature-resistant formula. I can’t wait to see that ingredient list – I might have to find my high school chemistry textbook. Speaking of ingredients…

2. Hidden Valley did not become a well-known brand by caring about people’s health. My problem here is that if ranch becomes even more accessible than it is now, how much fatter are people going to get? If diners see ranch dressing on the table next to the ketchup and salt and pepper, they are not going to start getting any skinnier, that’s for sure. I know this comes down to personal choice, but it bugs me. Have you seen the nutritional info and ingredient list on a bottle of ranch recently? Example: 2 tablespoons = 14g fat. [Heinz ketchup? 0g fat.] As I write this, Leon is getting laaaarger.

So what do you think? Do you like the campaign? As a consumer, would you be happier knowing that your constant access to ranch dressing is just that much closer? Does ranch really taste like desperation? Talk to me, readers.

H/t to the WSJ for the news and the top bottle.

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14 Responses

  1. Victoria

    I work at a very large non chain restaurant and the running joke around here is that we add ranch to everything. It’s already accessible and popular, I think Hidden Valley is just hooking their wagon to an already speeding train.

  2. Marvo

    When I saw the press release for this the other week, I couldn’t help but shake my head for all the reasons you brought up.

  3. Mr Bob

    I have put ranch on my french fries since I was in high school..I was ahead of the curve, since I am fast approaching 50 now. !

  4. Hannah

    1) most kids favorite dressing is Ranch
    2) Too many of our nations children are already obese. Which is a national campaign against headed by our first Lady.
    3) this adds up to a huge possibility of a flop…yes you can get kids to eat more veggies with Ranch, but Ketchup is just as loved or more by kids and is way healthier.

    Hidden Valley would have to make major changes for this to work.

  5. Jodi

    I work at a craft brewery that also serves lovely food. We had a group of student ‘chefs’ in to learn about brewing and beer/food pairings. Out of 6 wannabe chefs, 4 ordered sides of ranch to dip/spread/pour/obliterate the flavor of any actual food on their plates.
    And I wept for the culinary future.

  6. Jeff

    Personally I stopped purchasing store bought dressings in favor of homemade years ago. But the key to stopping the probation of these types of low quality, unhealthy products is consumer education about food and health. So Alton keep chipping away at your mission in life! Keep up the good work. Big fan.

  7. Mike

    Gotta love free enterprise. If people want to eat this and Hidden Valley makes a bizillion dollars, great! If people choose to make themselves fat be eating too much of it, that’s THEIR choice; not yours, not mine, not anybody else’s. And guess what, THEY should be on the hook to pay for any health consequences; not you, not me, not anybody else. Share the facts if you like, but then get out of the way.

  8. Nutrition

    I agree, but your second point falls flat. It’s scientifically impossible, fat does not make you fat. Increased insulin levels are a prerequisite for fat cell production, eating fat does not cause increased insulin levels.

    The sugar/preservatives that are in foods should be worrying you FAR more than fat.

    Why is this scientific fact viewed as some sort of fringe “food trend”? It’s basic nutrition and yet millions of “experts” are completely, willfully ignorant to this (very) basic principle of human physiology.


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