Not just targeting moms: Campbell aims squarely at kids with push for pastas and soups

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Campbell Soup Co. hopes to reach young soccer players-not just soccer moms-this fall with new spokes-kid Freddy Adu, the 15-year-old phenom from Major League Soccer's D.C. United.

As part of a strategic shift that has already begun to spike sales for its kid varieties, Campbell is going direct to the target with ramped up TV, print, Internet and promotions. The focus is on building its Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup, new Sports Pasta soup varieties and its SpaghettiOs brand (which moves, after 39 years, from the Franco-American to the Campbell's banner).

Maurice Herrera, senior marketing manager for Campbell's condensed soups, said the shift in spending from adult to kid varieties began last year and is expanding significantly this year due in large part to the new era of collaboration between parents and kids on purchase decisions. "Soup as a food-because it's wet and juicy and slurpy-is so interesting to kids as a category, but for the longest time, we've really been talking just to moms."

mom brand

While in focus groups, kids said they thought of Campbell's more as a mom brand, they had no reservations about embracing it as their own if communicated with directly, Mr. Herrera said. That news offered a ray of hope for Campbell, which has been continuing to search for ways to build its long-sagging condensed soup business.

Last year's spokes-kid, rapper Bow Wow, kicked off a kid-targeted "It's got the goods" theme within the larger "Campbell's Instead" umbrella campaign featuring Aussie personality Gordon Elliott. In commercials from Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, this August, Mr. Adu is set to similarly take on Mr. Elliott in a high stakes game-likely soccer-with Campbell's chicken noodle soup as the prize.

Mr. Adu will also appear in newspaper inserts and Campbell's Labels for Education school fundraising program and Campbell will leverage the relationship with his team, D.C. United, to tap into the popularity of local soccer teams on a national level.

To push its convenient Soup at Hand varieties, Campbell plans to expand its relationships with snowboarder Tara Dakides and skateboarder Bucky Lasek, who appeared in print ads last year, with new TV spots and a large sampling program touting Soup at Hand at ski slopes and skate parks.

`sharp uptick'

Promotions, especially those with an Internet component, were critical to Campbell's ability to drive a "sharp uptick" on volume on its chicken-noodle and kid varieties last year, Mr. Herrera said, although he did not quantify the rise. As a result, this year Campbell will launch its largest-ever back-to-school event with an Active Adventure Cruise sweepstakes touting the chance to win one of 60 free family trips on Carnival Cruise Lines.

The company plans dedicated advertising for SpaghettiOs in the fall for the canned pasta, sales of which fell nearly 7% to $92 million last year, according to Information Resources Inc. TNS Media Intelligence/CMR figures show Campbell backed the brand with only $361,000 in media last year.

To reach younger kids, Campbell is tying in with Nickelodeon's "Dora the Explorer" and "Jimmy Neutron" for shaped pasta varieties based on the shows. Those varieties will be touted via print and in-store signage targeting moms.

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