Campbell Position Shifts To 'Healthy Everyman'

Campbells Chunky campaign

After years of driving home Chunky soups' ability to make a meal even for pro football players, Campbell Soup is shifting the brand to a three-pillared positioning that stresses nutrition and great taste, along with heartiness.

Campbell's spent 18 months reformulating 11 of the Chunky varieties and adding two new ones to lay the foundation for a strong "better than ever" for you message. The 40 varieties now include 23 that have a full serving of vegetables and 100% lean meat, and 30 that have one or the other, and the messaging on Chunky's redesigned cans calls out these selling points.

In a marked departure from the brand's long-running "Mama's Boys" campaign featuring NFL players and their mothers, the TV commercials for the new campaign by Chunky agency Y&R, launching this weekend, convey those benefits by featuring the "average hard-working guy" who "wants to eat better, but not have to think too hard about it," in the words of Chunky soups and chili senior brand manager Doug Brand.



Although the Labor Day launch wasn't timed for theme reasons, the three spots shot to date feature three "real guys" cast and shot in Seattle, engaged respectively in ship building, quarry mining and farming, Brand tells Marketing Daily. Some of the guys are also shown with their real kids, conveying the underlying message that getting good nutrition, conveniently, is in no small part about having the energy to spend time with the family after a hard day's work. Hence the TV campaign's tagline, "This is Why."

The new direction seeks to make Chunky the answer to what Campbell has dubbed "the male meal dilemma." This comes down to: "What's made for me isn't good for me, and what's good for me isn't made for me," sums up Brand. "Men have had to choose between eating meals like 'manly' frozen dinners, which aren't good for them, or Lean Cuisine meals, which are positioned for their spouses," he says. "Chunky can fill that void by being nutritious, tasty and convenient, as well. When you get home from work at 6 or 7 at night, and you're scheduled to take the kids out for activities, you need something that's quick, too."

Product-oriented, copy-heavy print and online components of the campaign, as well as radio spots, will focus on the nutritional benefits and the "Better than ever" message.

In another major departure, the campaign's media plan calls not just for reaching men, but also reaching out in a much more deliberate fashion to women. Women are not only the "gatekeepers" who account for 75% of Chunky's sales; it turns out they also consume 50% of its cans and microwaveable bowls once they're in the home.

While the brand has experimented with some reach to women in the past, the new creative is much more conducive to this ("manly" ads in women's magazines create cognitive dissonance).

The product-driven print ads and family-oriented TV spots will be seen in publications including Better Homes and Gardens, Woman's Day and Cosmo, as well as during male-dominated sports coverage.

The new strategy reflects a clarified understanding of positioning versus target, Brand explains. "We have come to realize that we are a manly soup that's not just a soup for men," he says. With the "Mama's Boys" campaign -- which helped to double the brand's sales between 1999 and 2007 -- "We've been reinforcing that Chunky can fill you up right; now, we're defining the 'right.'"

"The NFL campaign may not have been the perfect campaign, but it succeeded because Campbell was very consistent," observes branding consultant Laura Ries, of Ries & Ries. "Once you've spent years and millions of dollars establishing a very strong position with a target audience -- in this case, men -- it's crazy to think about abandoning that. It only confuses people. They appear to understand that, and that you can target men with the advertising, but the market is everybody. Just like Marlboro cigarettes used the macho cowboy, yet became one of the best-selling brands among women."

The new campaign's multi-tiered messaging reflects learning both from extensive consumer research and marketplace learning from Chunky varieties within the Healthy Request line -- which quickly became Chunky's fastest-selling SKU's -- and Chunky's "Fully Loaded" offerings. Men (and the women who buy the groceries) clearly embraced the "better for you" aspect of the Healthy Request varieties. And in some retailers, consumers continue to respond well to the somewhat higher-priced Fully Loaded line, which "beats the 'fills you up' drum," notes Brand.

The campaign also includes online reach to men via and, and to women via and

A partnership with Men's Health will also encompass a four-page Chunky insert in the magazine's October issue and a microsite ( featuring interactive health and wellness tips and tools from the magazine's editors, plus a sweepstakes with a prize of a trip to Super Bowl XLIV.

A continuing partnership with the NFL will also come into play through in-store, promotional and online efforts; brand spokesperson roles by former Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Troy Aikman and sports nutritionist/Pittsburgh Steelers consultant Leslie Bonci; and the ongoing Chunky/NFL Tackling Hunger program.

1 comment about "Campbell Position Shifts To 'Healthy Everyman' ".
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  1. Kevin Horne from Lairig Marketing, September 2, 2009 at 11:23 a.m.

    yeah, Troy Aikman (6'4", 235 #) is going to call a bowl of soup "a meal." five or six cans, maybe....

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