Campbell Soup Bolsters Ad Team

Looking to unify its ad message across all brands, Campbell Soup Co. is hooking up with a team of food experts in a $100 million marketing campaign tagged, “Make it Campbell’s instead.” The newest addition: cookbook author and Food Network host Sandra Lee, who stars in a national TV and print effort breaking this month for holiday recipes that use condensed soups.

Lee joins a stable of spokespeople that includes Food Network’s Gordon Elliott, cookbook author B. Smith and hip-hop artist Bow-Wow, all featured in the campaign. Director of consumer promotion/licensing Terry Atkins called the effort a “huge departure” for Campbell’s marketing strategy, which shifts from fragmented, brand-specific messages for lines such as Soup at Hand and Healthy Request to “one voice, one message that still differentiates each brand.”

Two TV spots, via Omnicom Group’s BBDO in New York, tout the holiday recipes. One features Lee showing Elliott how to cook Campbell’s Seafood Tomato Alfredo. Elliott splatters sauce on his shirt, saying, “This is not my best moment!”

The spots, like the entire campaign, are unscripted for a reality-show flair, said Atkins. The aim: to rev up stale sales of condensed soup.

The effort follows Lee’s multimedia deal with Miramax Films last year, which leverages her lifestyle brand to book, TV and merchandising projects, including ventures around gardening, beauty, food and fashion products. In her best-selling book Semi-Homemade Cooking, Lee helps time-frazzled cooks prepare quick meals with shortcuts that use ready-made branded products such as Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup.

Miramax is testing a Semi-Homemade magazine at newsstands this week. Lee’s Food Network show debuted in October.

“We’re doing what we do anyway with a movie or TV property—moving it into different platforms,” said Lori Sale, evp/worldwide promotion at Miramax. “This is a first for us in that she is a real live brand who herself embraces brands.”