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By Published on .

Hoping to boost sales of its Franco-American Superiore canned pasta, Campbell Soup Co. is borrowing a successful marketing tactic from its Prego brand: comparative advertising.

In its $20 million campaign breaking this week, TV commercials show Superiore ravioli held up against Chef Boyardee-and the claim that the Franco-American brand is preferred 2 to 1.

The comparative strategy has built Prego spaghetti sauce into a second-place entry close on the heels of Lipton's Ragu. But unlike the hard-hitting, long-running Prego effort, Superiore uses a humorous, softer-sell pitch against the category leader, now in the process of being sold by American Home Products Corp. Chef Boyardee holds about a 59% share vs. Campbell's 36%.

"It's different from anything we've ever done" for Franco-American, said Senior Brand Manager Vince Melchiorre, who noted the company needed to cast the brand as a choice for adults as well as for its traditional kids franchise by hitting on benefits of richer sauce and plumper ravioli.


"It's not intended to be derogatory but . . . we had to fish where the fish are," Mr. Melchiorre said.

The initial spot, breaking Oct. 21, features the dully predictable Wilson family, which always eats Chef Boyardee on Wednesdays. But one day a can of Superiore accidentally falls into Mrs. Wilson's shopping bag at the store. After trying Superiore, the family not only switches brand allegiances but its entire lifestyle.

The tagline: "Superiore's not what you're used to. It's better."

Both Campbell campaigns are from FCB/Leber Katz Partners, New York.

Campbell's main franchise for canned pasta is kids, accounting for $240 million of the $510 million canned pasta category, the company said. But the larger segment is all-family consumption, where Franco-American is trying to build a following with Superiore.

Franco-American is also going outside its traditional media base of kids shows, adding adult-oriented prime time, and daytime programming aimed at women.

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