CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Campbell Soup Co. has stayed away from movie partnerships for years, but when an animated film about a kingdom built around the love of soup came around, it seemed like the time to heat up its Hollywood connections.
Kim McGough, senior manager-integrated marketing at Campbell, said the idea, in a way, came through BBDO Senior Account Creative Paul Reilly's daughter Meghan, who was reading "The Tale of Desperaux" about two years ago. When Universal approached the Omnicom Group ad agency with the opportunity for Campbell, Mr. Reilly was already familiar with the story -- and amenable.
"'The Tale of Desperaux' is a tale of heroic bravery, chivalry, honor, courage, equality; and it takes place in a kingdom with a Royal Soup Day," Ms. McGough said. "You don't really often find a kingdom that celebrates soup, so we thought it was a perfect opportunity for us."
The result is an integrated marketing campaign, with an animated TV spot from BBDO, in-store displays, newspaper coupons and "Desperaux" signage on 50 million soup cans. Campbell is using the opportunity to promote condensed chicken-noodle and tomato soups. The piece de resistance is a video game at kid-themed MySlurp.com, where kids can enter a proof-of-purchase code and play for a chance to win a variety of prizes, including a cruise. Ms. McGough said traffic to the website has already surpassed that of the company's last two holiday promotions.
Ms. McGough declined to discuss the financial component of the partnership, but underscored that "there was a lot of barter." Universal, of course, gets a lot more eyeballs for its holiday film. While Campbell doesn't get direct placement in "Desperaux," Ms. McGough said the partnership is a great way to get kids' attention at a time when they're out of school, and it's helped mobilize her sales force around something other than cream-of mushroom-displays, no mean feat during green-bean casserole season.
In addition to the more traditional advertising efforts, Campbell sponsored the movie's New York premiere. Stars Matthew Broderick, Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline autographed Andy Warhol-themed Campbell's soup bowls to be auctioned off in support of the Lollipop Theater Network. The company also made a 1,000-can donation in Desperaux's name to the New York City Food Bank, and held a reading in Camden, N.J. "Desperaux" author Kate DiCamillo took part, reading the book to local children.