Campbell Soup has tried just about everything else to improve soup sales since the beginning of the Great Recession, including cutting salt and adding it back in, fielding an organic lineup, and coming up with hip flavors and packaging just for millennials. All of it has only helped stem the decline in consumption of what used to be one of America’s staple foods.
So now the venerable brand is trying a new approach to marketing that positions Campbell and its soups as the brand that is “Made for Real, Real Life.” It’s the company’s first integrated soup portfolio ad campaign in more than five years.
Part of the positioning references the fact that Campbell has significantly overhauled its traditional product line over the past several years. It has made its popular soups more nutritious and healthful, and added a wide range of offerings.
And, to be sure, Campbell noted that its products are found in 88 percent of American households anyway. “We make real food for real people,” said Yin Woon Rani, Campbell’s vice president of marketing activation, in a press release. “This campaign shows how Campbell’s products fit into people’s hectic everyday lives in an authentic, humorous and relatable way.”
But the real point of the campaign is to show that Campbell understands “the modern American family.”
“We wanted to show actual families, which means families of different configurations, cultures, races and life choices,” Rani said. “The American family is changing faster than at any time in recent history and it is now a true mosaic of shapes and sizes, all bonded through love, and love of good food.”
The scenarios in Campbell’s ads are intended to depict today’s reality and all end with the tagline: “Real, Real Life.”
In one ad set in a grocery store during a snowstorm, the kids whine and mom grabs Campbell soup cans for them and a bottle of wine for herself.
In another, a couple is proud to be serving their son Campbell’s organic soup, as the child sits at the table licking a glue stick.
In a third that shows a can of Star Wars-themed soup, one gay dad plays with the spoon of soup and says, “Cooper, I am your father.” The other dad then good-naturedly says, “No, no, I am your father.”
Perhaps the funniest in the series is where an obviously under-the-weather man is lying on a couch while his wife is getting ready to leave for work. When he was young and ill, he tells her, “My mother used to fix me chicken noodle soup.” Without missing a beat, she tosses him his phone and says on her way out the door, with a smile, “Better call your mother.”
The spot ends with the guy in his bathrobe, stirring a can of Campbell’s on the stove—a spoonful of tough love, yes, but also some sympathy and comfort he can heat and eat.