Yes, Campbell’s Soup, whose depiction 32 times on a silkscreen print propelled a certain A. Warhol to fame in 1962 (I’ve spared you the other 31 images), will shortly be available in a grocer near you.
Or will it? The Campbell’ Soup UK relaunch raises some interesting issues about what a brand actually is. It’s Campbell’s, Andy, but not as we know it.
In a sense, Campbell’s never left in the first place. Let’s go back a few years to 2006, when Campbell’s UK was acquired by Premier Foods. Under the terms of the deal, Premier was allowed to sell the tinned condensed soup until March 2008, when the licence to use the brand name ran out. It then rebranded Campbell’s Condensed Soup as Batchelor’s Condensed Soup, keeping exactly the same recipe. Everywhere else in the world, for the next 3 years, Batchelor’s continued to be marketed, by Campbell’s, as Campbell’s.
But now – with the passage of 5 years since the original deal was struck – Campbell’s UK self-denying ordinance has expired. And, guess what? Campbell’s Soups are back. Except that they’re not – well, not exactly. Sure the name is here, but there’ll be no tins of the stuff, only dried “cup soups” in packets and boxes manufactured under licence by dried-food specialist Symington’s.
So which is the authentic one? The tinned soup manufactured to the original recipe but marketed under the Batchelor’s name? Or the Campbell’s-branded relaunch, to which you add water? And does it really matter what it “says on the tin”? A pity Andy is no longer around to tell us.
Blind soup-tasting test anyone?