Campbell Soup Shows 'Real, Real Life' in New Brand Campaign

First Major Push in Five Years Uses Real Fathers and Sons, Real Storms

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Campbell Soup's first major brand push in five years depicts real families, including a gay couple and their son, along with real weather patterns as the soup giant tries to tap into what's really going on in people's lives when it's time for soup.

The effort carries the new tagline "Made for Real, Real Life," which aligns with the company's corporate purpose of "real food that matters for life's moments."

Yin Woon Rani, Campbell's VP-marketing activation, said the company wanted to show a diverse mix of American families in the spots and to add a "a wink and a smile" to the brand's messaging. According to the company, Campbell's brand products are already found in 88% of American households. Still, it needs to push shoppers to buy more, especially as other areas such as fresh foods continue to gain ground over packaged items. Campbell has acquired brands such as Bolthouse Farms and Plum, is working on removing more artificial colors and flavors and is cutting costs as it tries to gain a competitive edge in a rapidly changing environment.

"Our goal was to sort of take what Campbell's has always been about and convey it in a fresher way," Ms. Rani said of the 146-year old brand. "We want people to understand what we're about but also give us a fresh look at the same time."

The campaign covers a wide variety of Campbell's branded products from canned soup to "Star Wars" soups; soup in K-Cups; Soup on the Go cups; and Campbell's skillet sauces. It does not included non-Campbell-branded products such as Pepperidge Farm cookies or Bolthouse Farms beverages.

Campbell-branded products fall into the company's U.S. Simple Meals unit, which also includes brands such as Prego and accounts for more than one-third of the company's total annual sales.

The BBDO campaign includes several 15-second spots. Two have Spanish versions as well, created with the Bravo Group.

The "Your Father" spot, which shows two fathers feeding their son "Star Wars" soup while reciting the famous "I am your father" line from the movie franchise, is a :15 and has a :30 version.

It was only set to be only a 15-second spot until shooting began. "We use this phrase internally of this notion of 'moment telling.' We wanted to tell just very simple, telegraphic stories that didn't always need the space of a :30," Ms. Rani said. "It was sort of a lucky extra because that story just ended up being so rich and so endearing."

Another commercial that uses real family members shows a mom grocery shopping with her two kids, as a voice-over plays a radio weather forecast. She stocks up on extra cans of soup as she hears how bad the snow is predicted to be -- and then grabs a bottle of wine. The spot will air online when the Weather Channel is predicting winter storms in certain areas and Campbell said it plans to insert blizzard names from the Weather Channel to tailor the ads to specific storms.

The food maker is significantly stepping up its investment in digital media this year, targeting 40% of its media buy in digital, up from 22% last year. A good chunk of the undisclosed budget will be spent on video, as it aims to get to a more targeted audience, Ms. Rani said.

Along with some real families, Campbell is trying to show more realistic depictions of meals. For example, a couple eating a dinner prepared with one of the brand's skillet sauces doesn't talk. Each person is too busy checking a cell phone.

Campbell's first umbrella soup advertising campaign began in 2010, with the "It's Amazing What Soup Can Do" tagline. That campaign included Chunky, which does not appear in the new "Real, Real Life" campaign.

Campbell Soup Co. spent $319.7 million on total U.S. advertising in 2014, down from $361.3 million a year earlier, according to the Ad Age Datacenter.

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