CAMPBELL SOUP TESTS NEW NICHE IN FREEZER: ADS 'WILL BE CRUCIAL' IN VIRTUALLY UNTAPPED SEGMENT

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Campbell Soup Co., in its quest to serve soup from different areas of the grocery store, is going to the freezer case with its newest line, Campbell's Restaurant Soups.

Although Campbell has sold frozen soups for at least 10 years through its foodservice division, this is the first time Campbell has marketed them to consumers.

"The category is virtually non-existent," said Christine Hartmann, business director-home meal replacement. "There is currently only $15 million in frozen soup sales [in supermarkets] out of a $3 billion category."

CHALLENGE: CREATE DEMAND

Campbell's challenge, therefore, lies in creating a demand.

"The advertising will be crucial in introducing this new product form and packaging configuration to consumers," said Ms. Hartmann. "It's a pure marketing job."

The company is testing the waters with a well-supported TV effort in only 25% of the country. Ms. Hartmann declined to quantify spending; she said that at a national level the spending would be equivalent to at least $10 million.

Ads from Foote, Cone & Belding, New York, are running in markets including Baltimore; Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C.; Detroit; Pittsburgh; Richmond and Roanoke, Va.; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Tampa, Fla. The TV spots are themed "It's like dining out when you are dining in."

The product, carrying a suggested retail price of $5.99 to $6.99, is prepared by adding milk or water. The package is made so that half can be prepared at a time, with the other half going back into the freezer. There are five varieties.

The high price reflects the fact Campbell is marketing Restaurant Soups as a main meal. The company hopes that will minimize cannibalization of its other soups.

"This is a center-of-the-plate product and a meal in itself with salad and bread," said Ms. Hartmann.

PROGRESSO SOUP 'KIT'

Although there is a frozen soup "kit" from Pillsbury Co.'s Progresso-Simply Simmer soups now being marketed in New England, upstate New York, Chicago and parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania-it isn't marketed as a complete meal.

The Progresso brand has a suggested retail price of $2.79 for each four-serving package and contains pouches of frozen vegetables and a frozen soup base prepared with milk, water or added meats.

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