Campbell boosts snack spending with new ad pushes
The past year has been one of the most intense in Chris Foley's 20-year tenure at Campbell Soup Co. As senior VP and chief marketing officer of the Campbell Snacks division, Foley has been prepping campaigns for three big brands the company acquired a year ago while also trying to boost momentum for other products the company has had for decades.
This month, campaigns break for Snyder's of Hanover pretzels and two potato chip lines, Cape Cod and Kettle. Plus, the Goldfish cracker brand has a new product to promote. Campbell Snacks is backing the efforts with a 25 percent increase in media spending during the second half of fiscal 2019, which ends in July.
"We have a strong belief advertising works," says Foley. "It's about building equity in these brands, not just driving lots of different marketing tactics to invest in price discounting or other places. We're making a very concerted effort to build equity back into these businesses."
All of the campaigns were developed with Campbell Snacks' creative agency of record, VMLY&R. Barton F. Graf had worked on the Snyder's of Hanover brand in the past, but Campbell opted to bring all of the accounts to Y&R (now VMLY&R), which it has worked with since the mid-1990s.
Campbell Soup placed a massive bet on snacking when it bought Snyder's-Lance for about $4.9 billion in March 2018. Campbell already sold plenty of snacks, such as Pepperidge Farm's Goldfish crackers and its cookies. With Snyder's-Lance, snacks went from 32 percent of total sales to 47 percent of total sales. Soup accounted for 34 percent of sales before the deal, and dropped to 26 percent of sales once it closed. And once Campbell Soup finishes selling off units it no longer wants, namely its international and fresh businesses, snacks will represent an even bigger piece of the total portfolio.
"It strikes us as prudent that this is an area that they'd look to grow in," says Erin Lash, an equity analyst covering the consumer products space at Morningstar.
Campbell Snacks was the only division to post sales growth without the help of acquisitions in the company's latest quarter. Sales from the existing snacks portfolio rose 3 percent.
"If you're thinking about packaged food, that's fairly decent growth," says Lash. Add in those Snyder's-Lance brands, and snack sales soared 76 percent.
Still, the brands could use the marketing muscle. Snyder's of Hanover, by far the dominant pretzel brand in the U.S., saw sales fall 2 percent to nearly $453 million in the 52 weeks ended Feb. 24, while the category grew 0.3 percent, according to Chicago-based research firm IRI. "That was one that definitely, I think, we came in and said, 'We can do something special here,'" Foley says of Snyder's.
Two ads kick off the brand's "Make Some Noise" campaign. In one, a guy working from home disrupts a conference call with his crunching.
In the other, it's hard to give your partner the silent treatment while eating pretzels.
Some 80 percent of the campaign media spending will be devoted to TV. It's the first big campaign for the brand since "Pretzels, Baby" from Barton F. Graf debuted in 2016.
Under Campbell's ownership, the Cape Cod potato chip brand has grown share and earned more display space at some retailers. Now, it's getting a sizable but undisclosed media budget for the first time and its first national TV push. The new tagline leans on the brand's heritage: "When your hand's in the bag, your head's in the Cape." The TV spot at first seems to show a woman at the beach, feeling the ocean mist on her body, then reveals she's feeling the spray of a garden hose during her lunch break. As with Snyder's, 80 percent of the media spending is slated for TV.
The smaller Kettle brand gets two animated spots for its campaign, tethered to the tagline "No small flavors. No small potatoes." It's been more than a decade since Kettle has had a big new creative push.
Kettle is known for flavors, counting sea-salt-and-vinegar as its top seller, followed by jalapeño and then sea salt. The brand attracts a generally younger demographic than Cape Cod, and Kettle's push includes 65 percent of media going to TV.
And then there's Goldfish, the biggest of the four brands. Ads for Epic Crunch, the newest iteration of Goldfish, extend the kid cracker brand's heroes campaign, which launched in May. Goldfish is also appearing as a sponsor during Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards, as the brand looks to grow its reach with slightly older kids. TV will make up 75 percent of the spending for the Goldfish effort. (Y&R has been working on the Goldfish brand since the '90s.)
The TV focus is an attempt to build scale and awareness. Foley says he's seen the impact of investing in some mass approaches, as long as it's done in a smart way. He believes the other brands Campbell acquired, including Lance and Snack Factory, could get stronger with more investment, but for now he's focused on these campaigns.
"In a business where we're telling the story, and on a product where we want it to come to life a little more," he says, "video is incredibly important."