The Speed of Culture Podcast: Modernizing an Iconic Brand

Linda Lee, CMO of meals and beverages at Campbell Soup Company, on thriving in the fast-paced world of marketing

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Campbell Soup Company is an iconic brand in the CPG segment and has become one of the world’s most recognized and loved brands over its 154-year history. To gain insights into the company’s marketing strategy and customer-centricity, we connected with Linda Lee, Campbell Soup’s chief marketing officer of meals and beverages.

In the latest episode of The Speed of Culture podcast, Lee joins Suzy founder and CEO Matt Britton to discuss her unconventional path from engineering to marketing, her invaluable experiences at Procter & Gamble and General Mills, and her deep insights into what it takes to solve complex problems and thrive in the fast-paced world of marketing.

Today, Lee has over 20 years of experience in senior marketing roles at blue-chip CPG companies and a proven track record as a successful C-level business executive across diverse industries. Proving her mettle, Lee has delivered excellence in P&L management, strategic planning, change management, brand building, innovation and demand generation. She is an innovator with broad leadership expertise across different business challenges, including startup growth, turnaround environments and rapid growth situations. Starting her career as an engineer, Lee’s illustrious career in marketing took off through a stroke of pure serendipity.

Learn how Campbell Soup Company uses customer insights to drive business growth. Check out the key takeaways of this episode below.

Key Takeaways:

  • 03:20 – 04:14 – People are the Biggest Assets for a Company – Lee notes how blue-chip companies have clarity of vision when recruiting. They know who they are and can define the candidate profile they are looking for. While most companies look for candidates who can deliver results, blue-chip brands recruit for the long term, searching for people who are a cultural fit and would have higher satisfaction levels. They also invest a lot of resources in training their people. 
  • 16:32 – 18:32 – How the Pandemic Brought Campbell Closer to its Customers – The Covid-19 pandemic profoundly impacted Lee’s role and the company’s go-to-market strategy, bringing employees and customers closer together. Leveraging its pre-pandemic marketing blueprint, the company swiftly implemented content-driven strategies to engage consumers and provide value. This shared experience instilled pride among employees, recognizing their crucial role in assisting customers. Overall, the pandemic strengthened internal bonds, enhanced customer relationships, and drove agile marketing adaptations to meet evolving needs.
  • 20:53 – 22:30 – Modernizing an Iconic Brand –  Campbell’s brand is timeless, appealing to people of all ages, but particularly resonating with the younger crowd. This surge in popularity can be attributed to the remarkable force of nostalgia and cherished memories, as individuals associate Campbell’s with heartwarming moments such as enjoying a bowl of their classic chicken noodle soup. To effectively engage with the younger generation, the brand capitalizes on various occasions, employing strategic rebranding efforts and innovative packaging. Lee also acknowledges the challenge of modernizing an iconic brand, while still staying authentic.
  • 29:37 – 31:23 – How is AI Impacting the Role of Retail Media – AI tools are redefining the role of sales and marketing across the customer journey and closing the loop between the top-of-funnel and bottom-of-funnel activities. Generative AI provides opportunities that didn’t exist earlier, and data analytics is much faster with real-time analysis. The analytics go beyond just dollar sales. Brands now have access to consumer response, allowing companies to be more agile in their response to customer and market changes.