Campbell’s Go! . . A package or a print ad, and does it matter?

Does this new Campbell’s Go! Soup package, shown on the right side of the image above, succeed as a “disruptive” (Campbell’s word) platform for a new brand? Or does it simply look like the newest example in a line of Campbell’s Soup print ads that started more than a century ago? Let’s talk about it.

Iconic packages abound. Relics of the early 20th century, the Coca Cola bottle, the Hershey’s milk chocolate bar, the roll of Life Savers, and of course the can of Campbell’s soup, are each rife with historic brand equity.

Challenged with brand equity of incalculable value and of measurable limitations, each of these brands continue to make decisions on growth while building recognition and brand equity, and while adjusting to the cultural, manufacturing, environmental, and logistical aspects of the contemporary marketplace.

We learned yesterday that Campbell’s is continuing an evolution away from its iconic past with the introduction of Campbell’s Go! Soup. I may have some questions about certain elements of the design . . . like mainly this solution seems more like a print ad than a package (maybe that’s OK). But also isn’t the tone just a little too smarmy, and what’s with the lady (it’s a lot of real estate to invest in her), or is it a great idea (especially in an unfamiliar structure) to make the Smoked Gouda flavor name twice the size of the Campbell’s brand identity?

But I don’t question the series of bold decisions it must have taken within the walls of Campbell’s, and I generally applaud the effort to evolve the brand. It would seem that they haven’t lightly considered the hard questions of how to strongly move a brand equity of the last century into the next.

As CEO Denise Morrison said, Campbell’s is “moving from a high dependence on line extensions to more disruptive innovation, new and differentiated products, packaging and category segments that create new pathways for growth.” Disruptive this is!

In closing a small gripe about the Ad Age column where this initiative was mentioned. It waxed eloquently about the package change and how “the marketer embraces innovations and new packaging in search of a turnaround.” Yet no mention of the brand identity or package design firm that must have helped carefully guide the development of this new brand. They certainly mentioned that Omnicom and Y&R share the advertising responsibilities . . . but design firm, nope. Then again it is called Ad Age.

Here are a few other links to this story at; Reuters, Wall Street JournalMarket Watch, and CNBC,

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About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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3 Responses to Campbell’s Go! . . A package or a print ad, and does it matter?

  1. LeahG says:

    Great question, and perhaps it does not matter and yet another ‘rule’ falls. I wonder about the name– Go Soup!? Contemporary? and isn’t that what the cups are?

    And smarmy is so Gen X, not a Millennial thing at all.

  2. Let’s face it: pasta sauces might look the same, but they’re not. It’s the pack’s responsibility to show the point of difference – real or perceived, emotional or rational – through effective, expressive design. It needs to shout your product’s uniqueness, and convince consumers the reasons to believe.

  3. Ryan says:

    i for one does not recognize the campbell brand on the new packaging they introduced. it seems like they are just changing it for changes’ sake. not appealing at all and really does not connect. let look at coca cola for example; coca cola has managed to transcend their brand to the new age without compromising their brand and alienating their customers.

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