CAMPBELL TRIES TO STIR SOUP SALES WITH $95 MILLION: BBDO-CREATED ADS PUSH VERSATILITY AND FITTING INTO TODAY'S LIFESTYLES

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With its flagship product losing steam, Campbell Soup Co. will put an estimated $95 million behind advertising aimed at convincing consumers soup is versatile and contemporary.

The theme of the new effort, "We have a soup for that," breaks next month on TV and was created by BBDO Worldwide, New York. It follows last year's tag, "Good for the body, good for the soul."

STRONG HERITAGE TOUGH TO CHANGE

"In the past we've run into difficulty because Campbell Soup's strong brand heritage was almost antithetical to changing it for today," said Ted Sann, co-CEO and chief creative officer at BBDO.

Unlike previous campaigns that focused primarily on the emotional and nutritional goodness of soup, the new campaign's mission is to "get consumers to think about soup for occasions beyond being cold and not feeling well, and explain the breadth and richness of our portfolio," said Lisa Zakrajsek, VP-general manager, U.S. Soup.

The goal: to expand usage occasions for Campbell's soup to ones more relevant to today's lifestyles.

Ms. Zakrajsek said research showed that "although we have a 70% share of the soup category, we really compete in the larger $40 billion category of 'simple meals' -- easy-to-prepare things like hot dogs and pizza -- and in that world, we had to determine how to differentiate soup."

NEW WAYS TO FIT INTO LIFE

TV creative starts Nov. 1, focusing on how particular soups can fit into consumers' lives in new ways. "Video Game" positions Chicken Noodle as "the first interactive snack for kids." Aimed at moms, the spot shows kids being lured away from a videogame for a bowl of Chicken Noodle, for which "they can use their mouths, their hands, their imagination."

Although the commercial uses a special product tagline, "Fill your kids with good, wholesome fun," it fits into the umbrella campaign via a mnemonic device at the end that quickly flips through the variety of Campbell's soups and freezes on the soup highlighted in the commercial.

Soup becomes an indulgent treat for busy moms in "Just the Two of Us" for its upscale Select line, the new name for its Home Cookin' line. The spot shows a woman stirring a pot of soup while talking on the phone about the great evening ahead without her kids. But expectations of a romantic evening with her husband are dashed in the next scene, which shows her curled up on the couch with her soup. The voice-over states: "Sophisticated soups for those special evenings just for the two of you: You and a bowl of Campbell's Select."

The TV effort will include a pool of eight spots running throughout the next year, focusing on new usage occasions for existing soups, such as the kid-targeted Mega Noodle and jarred Simply Home. It will also support new brands such as the calcium and vitamin-fortified Campbell's Plus testing in the Northeast, and the portable Soup to Go. Print focuses on condensed soups used for cooking, featuring time-saving recipes for homemade meals.

Not included in the umbrella campaign is its heartier Chunky line, which continues National Football League-themed ads via Y&R Advertising, New York.

SALES DECLINE, TURMOIL ESCALATES

Beleaguered Campbell's major hurdle will be heating up tepid soup sales in an increasingly commoditized category. Bill Leach, analyst at DLJ Securities, said in the four-weeks ended Sept. 12, Campbell's soup volume was down 2%, while private-label grew 15%. The results are "very disappointing," he said.

Continuing declines have led to turmoil at Campbell, including the ousting in June of Mark Leckie, president of U.S. grocery. His successor, Campbell veteran Marty Thrasher, and Chairman-CEO Dale Morrison are under rising pressure from Wall Street to stimulate growth with the new advertising.

Mr. Leach, for one, is skeptical that this campaign will make the difference.

"Campbell has tried a variety of different campaigns over the years, and soups have never grown -- even in the coldest winter in history with Nancy Kerrigan as

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