A spokesperson for New York City restaurant Pop Burger made the above statement in response to a request by Campbell’s that the restaurant take down a wall full of reproductions depicting Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s soup can paintings. The request claimed that the sheer number of reproductions suggested a relationship between the brand and the restaurant.
The ignorance of the Pop Burger rep, besides evidencing why the Pop Burger brand will never enjoy similar global brand success, demonstrates a failure to understand that Warhol chose to use the Campbell's brand because of its strength. If anyone owes anyone else a place in history, Warhol should thank Campbell’s, and not the other way around.
Even before Warhol pointed out the obvious, Campbell’s was an iconic brand. From its humble beginnings as Joseph Campbell’s cannery of tomatoes, soups, condiments, vegetables, and mincemeat in 1869, it grew into a brand that identifies Americana as much as it identifies America. While the popularity of the brand’s profile fluctuates over time—often depending on the economic health of its consumers—Campbell’s enjoys extraordinary brand recognition and an envy-inducing level of respect. For example, despite being the oldest of old-economy brands, a 2008 survey by the Reputation Institute and the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, found that Campbell’s was second on a list of the most socially responsible companies in the US, behind only Google.
Campbell’s owes a great deal of its success to technological innovation. Its turn-of-the-century breakthrough of halving water content to create a condensed soup helped to expand its wide popularity. But just how does the brand fair online in the new economy?
Campbellsoup.com is the brand’s online gateway with the URL representing and linking to the brand’s stable of sites, which include campbellwellness.com and campbellkitchen.com. All maintain the same basic brand-correct design. Campbell’s homepage, however, anchors all of the sites by maintaining the brand’s well-known color scheme and fonts.
Much of Campbell’s online success can be attributed to what the brand hasn’t attempted to do. The brand, for example, understands the reasons to visit a soup website do not include Flash-based video games or social networking based on a love for chicken soup. (It should be noted that many similar consumer brands, or those brands’ agencies, are convinced otherwise.) Also, Campbell’s realizes its brand’s place on the sex appeal spectrum; it knows it is not a high fashion label and it opts, wisely, to avoid flamboyance both online and on the shelf.
The real question for Campbell’s website is what motivates consumers to go to campbellsoup.com, anyway? Rewards and promotions maybe? Nutritional information? Recipes? The vast majority of answers likely fit into one of these general categories and Campbell’s has addressed all of them, funneling visitors to health and nutrition information, recipes and suggestions and ongoing promotions.