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Campbell Soup Reprises Slogan

September 6, 2000

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) _ After letting its focus drift from its core business and suffering three straight quarters of disappointing earnings, Campbell Soup Co. on Wednesday resurrected its ``M’m! M’m! Good!″ slogan in an effort to strengthen soup sales.

The world’s largest soup maker is relying on the slogan, which hasn’t been its advertising centerpiece in more than a decade, to revive consumer interest in its ``icon″ soups: Chicken Noodle, Tomato and Cream of Mushroom.

The company’s profits dropped 14 percent for the quarter that ended in April. Campbell blamed that primarily on a sharp decline in U.S. soup consumption and warned that earnings for the year would probably fall short of expectations if the trend continued. Earnings for the latest fiscal quarter are expected Thursday.

The company on Wednesday launched six new 30-second television ads focusing on the condensed soups and a new ready-to-serve line. The campaign will continue through April. Campbell also will advertise in newspapers and on radio.

The ads will focus on the health benefits, wholesomeness and convenience of the soups, including new pop-top cans on ready-to-serve varieties.

Analysts said simply reprising the standby slogan won’t be enough to turn the struggling company around.

``They need to bring some news behind it,″ said David Nelson, analyst with CS First Boston. ``Just saying the product is `M’m! M’m! Good!′ if it’s the same old product in the same old can at the same old price, consumers will see right through that.″

Nelson said the company has not done enough to improve its offerings to consumers, who face ever-increasing choices in convenience foods.

``They haven’t improved the quality or convenience sufficiently,″ he said.

To really turn the company around they need to invest in new product innovation with substantial marketing behind it, Nelson said.

Condensed soup accounts for two-thirds of Campbell’s ``wet soup″ business, but consumers are ``moving beyond″ that, Nelson said.

``I don’t know that advertising is the quick fix for any of this,″ said Terry Bivens, analyst with Bear Stearns, ``but it’ll help to put some marketing funds behind the condensed line.″

Last year, the company spent $95 million on a campaign with the tag line, ``We Have a Soup for That,″ but the company didn’t direct enough attention to the new product line itself, he said.

``They didn’t really pull through on some of the new products they had hoped to get,″ Bivens said. For example, the company touted its ready-to-serve tomato soup, but had problems getting enough containers.

The company has used the ``M’m! M’m! Good!″ slogan in some form since the 1930s, but it has not played ``center stage″ in 16 years, said Andrew Hughson, president of the U.S. soups and sauces division.

Consumers, in testing, told the company that they associated the slogan with the soup maker, Hughson said.

``They said this is what we expect from Campbell,″ he said. ``It brings the positive of the past without being nostalgic.″

Campbell will highlight the fact that more than 30 of its soups have fewer than 100 calories and 3 grams of fat per serving. Campbell also will tout the addition of 20 percent more chicken in Chicken Noodle Soup and the health benefits of its tomato soup. The ads cite studies showing that ``diets rich in tomato products are associated with reduced risk of certain types of cancers.″

Campbell declined to disclose its budget for the new campaign, calling it a ``significant increase″ over past efforts.

While the company has been struggling financially, it also is in the midst of management changes. David W. Johnson, who was president and chief executive from 1990 to 1997, returned to the posts temporarily last year after Dale F. Morrison resigned.

The board of directors is still seeking a new CEO, said company spokesman John Faulkner.

Shares of Campbell were up 12.5 cents to close at $24.88 a share Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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On the Net: www.campbellsoup.com

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