Activist Investor Wants Sweeping Changes at Campbell Soup, Made This Bananas Campaign to Explain

Third Point LLC calls for an entirely new board

The brand's problem won't be fixed by adding salt or using gluten-free noodles, according to the video. Third Point LLC
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Activist investor Third Point LLC is calling on Campbell Soup Co. to dump its entire board of directors. Rather than simply writing up its concerns or putting together a presentation on how the company has continued to underperform (although there is a website that shareholders are pointed to), Third Point created perhaps one of the wildest four-minute videos you’ll see from activist investors all year—or possibly ever.

The name for this four-minute masterpiece, “Empty the Can,” is just as eye-catching as the content. It opens with a woman in a pink, retro kitchen, dressed à la 1950s in a formal dress and a string of pearls, dancing around as an upbeat Campbell’s Soup jingle plays in the background.

“What an incredible waste,” a narrator says, as the camera zooms in on a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. “One of America’s most iconic brands being left behind by failed leaders who punished shareholders’ loyalty.”

A spokesperson from the Campbell Soup Co. stated that with this video, “Third Point is once again attempting to mislead Campbell shareholders by cherry picking its reference points regarding performance. Once again, Third Point has failed to present any credible ideas for how it proposes creating value for shareholders. A video is not a plan.”

Third Point LLC did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the video.

The narrator of Third Point’s video goes on to explain that if, 20 years ago, you invested $1 in the S&P 500, your investment today would be worth $4.06. If you invested that $1 in Campbell’s Soup 20 years ago, that would only be worth $1.19 today.

Third Point then uses its video to dive deeper into the company’s alleged issues, and how it believes failed leadership by Campbell’s board of directors caused such a steep decline in value for shareholders. The video tackles a number of business deals that haven’t panned out for the the company, including the acquisition of Bolthouse Farms in 2012. Campbell Soup announced in late August that it planned to spin off Bolthouse Farms (and Garden Fresh Gourmet, acquired in 2015).

Another thing the activist investor group takes issue with is the board’s lack of planning following the exit of former CEO Denise Morrison. While the company has an interim CEO, Keith McLoughlin, Third Point wants a more permanent solution, which would probably start with that completely new board. Head shots of well-known ad industry execs, including Endeavor CMO Bozoma Saint John and ComScore president Sarah Hofstetter, are shown flowing into a freshly drained can of soup, as possible suggestions for board members.

It’s unclear how the company board will respond, why investors think this kind of tactic will work, if this tactic will work or if the company will implement any of these suggested changes.

According to the Campbell Soup Co. spokesperson: “The Campbell Board has taken swift action, including changing senior management, launching a comprehensive portfolio review and announcing a new strategic path forward to create long-term value by focusing the business, reducing costs and paying down debt. We are focused on the core issues at hand—executing our plan, turning the business around and maximizing shareholder value.”

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.