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. Salty snacks joined the portfolio in 2018 with the bolt-on of the Snyder's-Lance pretzel business. However the group has for years been troubled by uneven performance. 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. Another attempt to diversify, this time into fresh vegetable snacks in the US in the 2010s, also proved disastrous. In 2018, the group said it would dispose of not only the fresh vegetable unit but also all its remaining operations outside North America.

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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 6th Sep 2018: Campbell Soup Company announced disappointing results for the year to July, and said it will refocus operations on its core North American soups and snacks business. Revenues rose by 10% to $8.7bn on the back of recent acquisitions, but a huge impairment charge against the ill-starred Campbell Fresh vegetable snacks division and Plum baby foods, as well as costs associated with the acquisition of Snyder's-Lance snacks, caused net earnings to plunge by over 70% to $261m. As a result, following a strategic review of its activities, the group put the Campbell Fresh business up for sale, as well as its chilled US soups and its remaining international operations, which mainly comprise the biscuit companies Arnott's in Australia and Kelsen Group in Denmark and Asia. Those disposals are likely to make Campbell Soup an even more attractive proposition for a larger acquirer, such as Kraft Heinz. However, any bid would be unlikely to succeed without the support of Campbell's controlling shareholders, the founding Dorrance family.

Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Jul 2018: Campbell Soup Company announced the appointment of Diego Palmieri as chief marketing officer, US meals & beverages, with oversight of all soups, sauces and the V8 juice portfolio. He joins the group from SC Johnson, where he spent 20 years, most recently as general manager for China.

Adbrands Weekly Update 24th May 2018: Denise Morrison is to step down immediately as CEO of The Campbell Soup Company after a difficult seven-year tenure. Despite a series of major shifts in strategy and structure, including an aggressive but so far unsuccessful push into fresh and chilled foods, Morrison has failed to turn around Campbell's prolonged slump. For its latest quarter, a further $619m of impairment charges against the fresh food division resulted in a $475m net loss, , and the company's share price is trading at its lowest level since 2012. Her role is assumed on an interim basis by former Electrolux CEO Keith McLoughlin, already a member of Campbell's board. The company recently promoted Luca Mignini to a new role as COO, with oversight of soup, beverages and snacks, including newly acquired Snyder's-Lance. Roberto Leopardi was named this week as president, meals & beverages. Bolthouse Farms and other fresh foods operations are run separately, and may ultimately be demerged. Indeed, McLoughlin told investors this week that "Everything is on the table," when it comes to restructuring, even potentially an outright sale of the whole company to a rival such as Kraft Heinz.

Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Apr 2018: Campbell Soup Company made further changes to its corporate structure, grouping all its existing businesses except vegetable snacks division Campbell Fresh under the command of Luca Mignini, who is elevated to the position of group COO, and effective #2 to CEO Denise Morrison. At the same time, several other managers including Ed Carolan, who had been heading Campbell Fresh, are leaving the company. Ana Dominguez takes over as president of Campbell Fresh, which will operate separately as the core of a newly created "accelerator" unit. The group is seeking a "chief acceleration officer" to lead that business, reporting to Morrison.

Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Mar 2018: It took a few months but Arthur Sadoun's reinvigoration of Publicis Groupe is now delivering consistent results, forcing sceptics - and we were among them - to eat their doubts. Campbell Soup Company consolidated virtually its entire global marketing account with the Groupe this week. Publicis will take over creative, media, digital and consumer promotion duties for soups, sauces and beverages in North America, and all Campbell Arnott's operations in Australasia and South East Asia. Only Pepperidge Farm and Campbell Fresh in the US are excluded from the creative and digital brief, as are market regions China and Latin America. The appointment marks yet another major loss for WPP's Wavemaker media network - predecessor agency MEC had been the incumbent media shop - and also for BBDO, which had handled most creative. MDC's Anomaly also loses its creative assignment for Campbell's US sauces. Publicis has yet to announce how it will assign duties for the win between its agencies; however the pitch was led by Leo Burnett North America CEO Andrew Swinand.

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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 €1bn 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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