Campbell Soup Has A Recipe For Creative Risk-Taking

To foster a culture that embraces creative risk-taking, Campbell Soup Co.'s leading advertising officer makes training a top priority.

"I devote 25 percent of my time to training," Paul Alexander, Campbell's vice president of global advertising, told several hundred marketers and their agencies in New York Wednesday at the Association of National Advertisers' Agency Relations Forum.

What separates the extraordinary marketers from the merely great is the ability to recognize and nurture great advertising ideas, Alexander said. But many of the junior marketers he works with have had little chance to witness great advertising campaigns in their lifetimes.

Blame it on brand consolidation, media fragmentation, and the nature of marketing today, but there is little chance to cut one's teeth by developing ads for small brands whose fate won't affect the bottom line of the franchise, Alexander said.

Training gives junior marketers the confidence to take risks and reassures managers they made the right decision to join your company, Alexander said, calling it a "stealth weapon" for retention. Campbell's marketers spend 25 percent of their time studying strategy, positioning, media, commercial production, and case studies.



The core of the curriculum, he said, is: 1) Treat agencies as true long-term partners. 2) Place an unrelenting focus on big ideas and compelling drama. 3) Teach humility.

It takes big ideas to break through and that's what makes strong agency relationships critical, Alexander said. "I remind the folks at Campbell's that if we were so great at advertising, we'd do it ourselves."

On a more immediate concern of the audience, managing agency financial relationships, Alexander said Campbell Soup uses a fee commission with the potential for bonus to reward agencies for creative work. The bonus is based on the quality and number of ideas, and can be awarded after a formal performance review of the agency against the original scope of work.

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