Campbell Soup Company (US)

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Campbell is the world's #1 maker of soups although its operations are now mainly confined to the Americas and Asia Pacific. The group is best known for its iconic red-and-white soup brand, still a dominant player in the US market. This is supported by a range of other Campbell's soup lines as well as a small portfolio of non-soup brands including Pepperidge Farm baked goods, Prego and Pace sauces, V8 juice and Australian biscuit-maker Arnott's. More recently, the group has entered the fresh vegetable snack market in North America with a series of acquisitions. Campbell's accelerated the expansion of its European business in early 2001 with the acquisition of Oxo, Batchelors and other leading culinary brands from Unilever. However that deal was largely unpicked five years later when the UK portfolio was sold on to Premier Foods, leaving Campbell's with no local presence in Britain. Another non-core subsidiary, Godiva chocolates, was sold in 2008.

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Campbell's Condensed Goldfish crackers
Arnotts Prego
Campbell's Select Pepperidge Farm
Campbell's Chunky Pace
Kelsen V8 Vegetable Juice
Swanson Broth Baby Carrots
Bolthouse Farms Plum Organics


Campbell Soup Company (Canada) Campbell Soup Company (Australia)
Campbell Soup Company (China) Campbell Soup Company (Japan)

Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Dec 2017: With its core soup businesses in slow but steady decline, Campbell Soup Company has made a big bet on snacking with a deal to acquire pretzel giant Snyder's Lance for $4.9bn in cash. It is the biggest deal ever in Campbell's 148-year history, adding an extensive portfolio of brands. Though best-known for its Snyder's of Hanover pretzels and Lance crackers, the target company has been on an acquisition streak of its own in recent years, acquiring Diamond Foods (Emerald Nuts, Pop Secret popcorn and UK-based Kettle Crisps) in 2016. All these brands will now sit alongside Campbell's existing Pepperidge Farm crackers and cookies unit.

Separately this week Campbell called a review of all integrated marketing and media duties with a view to consolidating within a single holding company. Currently the business is mostly split between Omnicom's BBDO and WPP's Y&R and MEC, though MDC-owned Anomaly also has a presence on the roster.

Adbrands Weekly Update 13th Jul 2017: Campbell Soup Company expanded its range with a deal to acquire smaller rival Pacific Foods, a maker of natural and organic soups and broth. The price tag is $700m in cash, to be funded by Campbell's out of new debt. Pacific is the latest in a series of selective acquisitions designed to round out Campbell''s portfolio, joining other recent bolt-ons Bolthouse Farms, Plum baby foods, Kelsen biscuits and Garden Fresh Gourmet.

Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Sep 2016: Campbell Soup Company reported a lacklustre year to July, partly as a result of some issues in the final quarter at its newly created Campbell Fresh division, formed from the 2012 acquisition of Bolthouse Farms, makers of Baby Carrots and other fresh veg snacks. A disappointing harvest and manufacturing problems caused 4Q performance there to stall, while the mainline soups and sauces business was flat. Group revenues dipped 2% for the year, falling back just below $8.0bn. Net earnings slipped 15% to $563m.

Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Feb 2016: Campbell Soup Company bolstered its marketing team with the appointment of Greg Shewchuk as chief marketing & commercial officer for simple meals & beverages, America. He was previously CMO at infant nutrition specialist Mead Johnson.

Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Oct 2015: Ads Of The Week "Mom". BBDO New York unveiled a set of great new branding ads for the Campbell's Soup portfolio, offering different humourous vignettes of everyday situations that are enhanced by that old family favourite. It is a mark of the company's - and the agency's - confidence that each spot is leavened with a bit of negative humour, rather than the sunny over-optimism of some US food advertising. This is *real* real life after all. You don't need it sugar-coated. (For another compare-and-contrast, see the horrendously upbeat new Bertolli Meals spot from DDB - sorry guys! - on our Facebook page).

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In 1869, fruit merchant Joseph Campbell and icebox manufacturer Abraham Anderson teamed up to form Anderson & Campbell, selling a range of foods including canned tomatoes, vegetables, jellies and minced meats. The business chugged along with modest success for several years, but Campbell was hungry to expand. This didn't suit Anderson, who bailed out in 1876, leaving his partner sole proprietor of what now became The Joseph Campbell Preserve Company. The company's best-seller was Campbell's Beefsteak Tomato Ketchup. But a few years later, in 1894, Campbell also retired from the business, selling the company to general manager Arthur Dorrance.

The biggest development in the company's history came in 1897. That year, Dr John Dorrance, the chemist nephew of the new company president, adapted the condensing process, already widely used to preserve milk, for the company's soup. Removing the water from soup reduced shipping and storage costs dramatically. As a result the company was able to slash the price of its soup from 30 cents to a dime. One year later Campbell's changed its pack design to the familiar bold red and white still in use today. (According to legend, the executive in charge of the packaging had been inspired by the red and white uniforms worn by Cornell University's football team). Business boomed, supported by what was for the time a substantial advertising campaign on New York streetcars, featuring (from 1904), the Campbell Kids. In 1900, another centrepiece of the company's pack design was contributed when Campbell's soup won the Gold Medallion for excellence at the Paris Exposition; the Medallion has been featured on labels ever since.

The company gradually increased its number of soups to 21 varieties, and in 1904, changed its name, dropping the reference to Preserves. That year it began phasing out production of other products to concentrate solely on soup. In 1914, John Dorrance succeeded his uncle as president, and later sole proprietor. The same year he acquired rival soup business the Franco-American Food Company, maintaining the brand for a range of pasta and gourmet foods. In 1921, the company reinforced its commitment to soup, changing its name again to The Campbell Soup Company. During the 1920s and 1930s, the company became one of the leading advertisers in the US, and opened subsidiaries in Canada and Britain. In 1930, Dorrance died, succeeded by his brother Arthur.

In 1948, the company added to its portfolio, acquiring V8 Vegetable Juice. Six years later Campbell's went public, acquiring frozen foods company Swanson & Sons, developers of the "TV Dinner" a year later. In 1960, bakery company Pepperidge Farm joined the pantry. Two years later, Andy Warhol immortalised the Campbell's Soup brand in a series of paintings. (He later claimed it was because as a struggling artist he had had a tin of tomato soup of his lunch every day for 20 years). In 1966, the group added chocolate to its portfolio with the purchase of Godiva Chocolatier in the US. In the 1970s, the company bought out the chocolate maker's European parent, as well as Vlasic Pickles. More importantly the group introduced its first non-condensed soups, Campbell's Chunky, in 1970, leading to the beginning of a decline in the sales of the core red and white brand.

The next major acquisition drive came in the 1990s, with the purchase of a string of international food businesses. In 1992, the group bought Australian biscuit giant Arnott's, followed a year later by Fray Bentos, the United Kingdom's leading brand in premium canned meats. Other purchases included leading British sauces company Homepride and Mexican sauces company Pace (both 1995), leading German soupmaker Erasco (1996) and French soup company Liebig (1997). In 1998, Campbell's spun off several of its lower-margin brands, including Vlasic, Swanson frozen foods and Swift meats and pates in Argentina, as Vlasic Foods International. However the new company struggled under a mound of debt, and filed for bankruptcy in early 2001, subsequently selling off its Vlasic and Open Pit barbecue sauce brands to Hicks Muse Tate & Furst. 

Campbell's purchase of part of the Unilever food portfolio in January 2001 added considerable strength to its European operation. Unilever was obliged to dispose of selected culinary brands to comply with regulators over its Bestfoods merger. Campbell's paid E1bn for the portfolio which includes leading British grocery brands Oxo and Batchelor's, Lesieur mayonnaise in France, and a selection of other dehydrated soups in Europe. [See Unilever profile for more]. However the entire British arm of the business was sold on again five years later. See full profile for current activities

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