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Demanding better value and lower costs from print and TV, Campbell Soup Co. is holding the ax over any media company that won't go along.

So far, magazines have been hit hardest, with titles including Good Housekeeping, Country Living, Reader's Digest and Sports Illustrated cut from Campbell's fiscal 1997 schedule.

The pressure comes even as the marketer raises its $175 million ad budget by 30%.

"The philosophy is a rating point is a rating point. If you want to reach women 25 to 40, you can do it with Country America or Reader's Digest, `Step by Step' or `Oprah,'*"

said a media executive with knowledge of Campbell's buying practices.


That marks an about-face for a company that traditionally has maintained long-term commitments to TV and magazines.

"The cuts have been dramatic," said one publisher. In addition to removing some titles from its list, Campbell is reducing spending in others including People and TV Guide. Martha Stewart Living is also facing a big cutback.

So far escaping the ax are such magazines as Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, Ladies' Home Journal and Family Circle.

A media executive familiar with Campbell's TV buying said that on the network side, the company has been trying to shift some upfront commitments to shows that are on the lower end of the price scale.


"Most recently, they seem to be looking for shows that cost less for a 30-second spot," the executive said, adding that Campbell also put some money earmarked for syndication into network "because they didn't like some of the deals they were offered in syndication."

Last year, Campbell spent about $50 million in print, but that figure is expected to fall if the current lineup holds.

That has left executives from publishers like Reader's Digest Association and Hearst Magazines scrambling to come up with sales pitches that could recoup some Campbell business by early next year. Some who have been shut out or cut back so far remain hopeful for some future business as Campbell boosts its ad spending.

"There are still brands that have not come out of the boxes," said one publisher. "We're all fighting for it."

Campbell's new print buying approach is tilting toward price, whereas in the past, magazines were also evaluated on such points as whether their readers were likely to cook with soup.


"They used to buy individual titles, but now [print media are] being bought from the top down," said the media executive with knowledge of Campbell's buying practices. "Now, it's simply CPM, CPM, CPM."

Campbell's intensified squeeze on media is part of an efficiency push that has reached all corners of the $6 billion company.

Also behind the change are the expanded duties of Media Director Marianne Ham, a veteran TV buyer and tenacious negotiator who recently added print responsibility.

"We look at the rates and get the best deal. That's what media's all about," Ms. Ham said.

Added a spokesman: "Just because we bought 10 pages in a magazine last year and we're raising our ad budget 30%, it doesn't automatically follow that we're going to buy 13 this year. Anybody who thinks this is business as usual is sadly mistaken."

The efficiency push is so intense that Campbell's media department balked at a $150 membership fee for the Audit Bureau of Circulations, demanding its agencies pick up the tab.

Contributing: Chuck Ross.

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