Product Launch: Campbell's teams with NFL to stir up buzz for new chili

Campbell Soup's partnership with the NFL began in 1998, but with its new product, Chunky Chili, entering the market in September, the company needed an extra push.

Campbell Soup's partnership with the NFL began in 1998, but with its new product, Chunky Chili, entering the market in September, the company needed an extra push.

For this, it turned to Coyne PR, also based in its home state of New Jersey.

In years past, Campbell's had focused mainly on the pre-season, but it now wanted to make the most of the entire season, what it refers to as "soup season." With that in mind, Campbell's and Coyne set out to incorporate the spirit of the NFL season and the league's fans, while pushing Campbell's newest offering.

Strategy

It was a challenge for Coyne and Campbell's to create a campaign that could sustain itself throughout the season, says Coyne VP Tim Schramm.

The PR team sought a creative way to appeal to NFL fans. When Coyne discovered Joe Cahn, the self-proclaimed "commissioner of tailgating," it deemed him the campaign's spokesman.

"Tailgating is a huge part of football, and Joe Cahn gave us the opportunity to get coverage throughout the season," added Schramm.

Campbell's and Coyne decided that the most aggressive push should be unveiled during the biggest event of the season, the Super Bowl. Continuing and improving on past programs, such as the Tackling Hunger program, in which cans of soup are donated to food banks, was important, too.

Tactics

The Tailgating Tour was the biggest push on the campaign. Each week, Cahn visited a different NFL city or two and shared his tailgating expertise with the crowd. Cahn helped create events that drew media attention, both locally and nationally, as well as got fans involved on a personal level.

Part of the tour were the Waiting for Tailgating events, the first occurring at the season opener. It featured events such as starting a fire from materials like flints, sawdust, and blocks of wood in order to heat a pot of Chunky Chili, with the winner receiving a Chunky Chili supply to last the whole season.

The Tackling Hunger program, which began in 1998, was also an important part of the campaign. Last season, for each mile that Cahn drove on his tour, one can of soup was donated. Another new development this year was the Click for Cans program, in which fans could go to Chunky.com and vote for their favorite team. The team with the most votes won that amount of soup for its local food banks.

The campaign ended with the Chunky Chili Bowl in Jacksonville, FL, host city for this year's Super Bowl. It pitted AFC fans, led by the Pittsburgh Steelers' rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, against NFC fans, led by Chunky ad spokeswoman Wilma McNabb, in a series of events, such as the NFL's Loudest Fan and an obstacle course. In a paper-football game between Roethlisberger and McNabb, the star rookie beat the NFL matriarch 35-15. And Cahn served as master of ceremonies.

Results

Cahn racked up 32,000 miles while visiting 30 NFL cities, meaning 32,000 cans of soup went to food banks. In addition, 1 million cans were donated nationwide based on the Super Bowl events, and 5,000 to a Jacksonville food bank. The Click for Cans contest was won by Green Bay Packers fans, and 14,000 cans were donated to Green Bay food banks - the team's weight in soup.

Future

Campbell's has retained Coyne for next year's football/soup season. "You can tell there is a lot of enthusiasm for [the next campaign]," says John Faulkner, VP of corporate communications at Campbell's. "As long as we have the NFL relationship, we'll continue to work on this."

PR team: Coyne PR (Parsippany, NJ) and Campbell Soup Co. (Camden, NJ)

Campaign: Chunky Soup NFL Sponsorship

Time frame: September 8, 2004, to February 6, 2005

Budget: $500,000

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