Philip Donne

By Published on .

Most Popular
[Toronto] Since joining Campbell Co. of Canada as president in June 2002, Philip Donne has been stirring up more than soup. Deliberately provocative, Mr. Donne says: "Everyone can learn if you ask, `What if?' "

The first "What if?" was dropping the word "Soup" from Campbell's name in Canada. Making Campbell more visible as a food company, with new products and categories, has been on Mr. Donne's agenda since day one.

With an estimated $75 million budget for advertising, promotions and public relations, Mr. Donne regularly joins Omnicom Group's OMD, Campbell's media agency, at meetings with Toronto and Montreal media owners, where he personally imparts his vision for the company and leads brainstorming sessions in search of strategic partnerships.

To draw attention to Campbell products, Mr. Donne backed "Power2Cook," a series of 2-minute TV cooking shows using Campbell products and targeting people about to make a quick meal decision. The "Power2Cook" chef became so widely recognized that Mr. Donne got him business cards and autographed photos to hand out.

"With the proliferation of media, you have to create vehicles for TV that will get people talking about them," says Mr. Donne, 43. "And rather than making a blanket buy, you want to reach people when they're making a decision."

For instance, whenever the temperature drops below 5 degrees Celsius, a 10-second Campbell spot runs regularly on the Weather Network reminding viewers that it's good weather for soup.

innovate and `steal'

"I admit that we both innovate and `steal with pride' ideas developed in other countries," says the multilingual Mr. Donne, who honed his marketing skills at General Mills, Duracell Canada, Coca-Cola Foods, and more than 15 years at Kellogg Co. in Canada, Italy and France. Before Campbell, he was the president of Cossette Communication Group, Canada's biggest ad group, in Toronto.

Mr. Donne squeezes in one day a month working in a different part of the Campbell plant to learn each production step, from receiving fresh vegetables to distribution, and to encourage development of ideas for an expanding food portfolio.

He has also reorganized the marketing department, hiring Nike executive Randy Weyersberg as VP-marketing, and launched new products including a beverage called V-Go, "flavor-blasted" Goldfish crackers and 25%-lower-salt broths in Tetra Paks.

Also, Mr. Donne has streamlined charitable efforts to focus mainly on hunger and children, to align this activity more with Campbell's interests and values. He chairs one favorite, the Kids' Help Phone.

Mr. Donne's latest efforts focus on health and wellness. "Campbell is on a tremendous track with new categories and new techniques," he says. "We want to have a legacy of values."

And in his spare time? Mr. Donne has just been named chairman of the Association of Canadian Advertisers.