Campbell Launches $100 Mil. Push

Campbell Soup this week kicked off the first umbrella campaign for all of its U.S. soups. This time around, ads don’t challenge rivals like Progresso, but rather show how consumers from all walks of life turn to Campbell’s soups to reach a “happier place.”

The effort, which spans television, print, radio, online and in-store media, is part of the soup maker’s strategy to reposition its products in the simple meals category. The first spot denotes that eating Campbell’s contributes to a healthier lifestyle, since the soups offer “good nutrition, energy [and] farm-grown ingredients,” Tim Allen, who lends his voice, says.

Tuesday’s page takeovers on major portals — namely AOL, Yahoo and — introduce the campaign’s new tagline: “It’s amazing what soup can do.”

According to the soup giant, the campaign is different from past efforts in that it highlights the breadth and versatility of Campbell’s entire portfolio. While past ads focused on bestsellers like chicken noodle and tomato soups, the new spots feature products like Healthy Request, Select Harvest, Chunky, and even its microwavable cups and bowls.

The campaign introduces consumers to the different ways they can cook with or serve Campbell’s soups, as well as the “unexpected ingredients that go into [them],” said Campbell rep John Faulkner. It was a natural evolution for the brand, since the health/nutrition message behind many of its core products had begun to intersect over the years, Faulkner said. For example, Campbell further cut the amount of sodium in its condensed soups this year.

The ads also feature a broader demographic — from kids to young adults and seniors. The goal, Faulkner said, is to “show that soup has appeal to lots of different folks; we want consumers to see themselves in these spots.”

Campbell will air a total of 15 spots — focusing on its different soup offerings — through March. It’s running print ads in popular cooking, shelter, sports and women’s magazines. The New York offices of BBDO and Young & Rubicam, the two lead agencies working on the account, handled creative duties for the campaign.

Campbell is spending more than $100 million on the new effort, which is significantly more than what it had spent on individual campaigns in the past. According to Nielsen, the company spent $236 million advertising its U.S. soup business last year, excluding online, and $97 million through June of this year.

The company is banking on the effort to help boost sales, which dropped 5 percent in the fourth quarter, per an earnings report last week. “You look back five years or more and Campbell was the dominant player in the soup category, but that isn’t the case anymore,” said Lynn Dornblaser, an analyst with Mintel, referring to the brand’s biggest rival, General Mills’ Progresso, and private label.

Since Campbell has tweaked its portfolio over the years, consumers might not be aware of all the changes and new products. “[Therefore,] the campaign really hammers home to consumers just how much variety Campbell has,” Dornblaser said.

John Grubb, managing partner at Boulder, Colo.-headquartered Sterling-Rice Group, said the most recent round of soup wars might have turned some consumers off to the category. But this (less aggressive) approach is a good way for them to tune back in.