CAMDEN, NJ: Favorability for Campbell Soup Company plunged following sensational and unverified tweets about George Soros from Kelly Johnston, the brand’s VP of government affairs.
According to Brandwatch data taken from public accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, as well as news sites, forums, and blogs, mentions of Campbell Soup increased more than 311% on Tuesday and Wednesday. The company accumulated more than 3,500 mentions on Tuesday, and an additional 1,300 on Wednesday as of 12 p.m. EST.
Over the course of those two days, 60.1% of mentions were negative.
Online conversations from the past 30 days indicate Campbell Soup was mentioned 27,000 times, with 61.6% of those mentions being positive.
Johnston claimed in a tweet on Monday that Soros’ organization, Open Society, was organizing and financing Central American migrants heading toward the U.S. border. Johnston’s unverified allegations follow widespread disinformation about the caravan. That same day, a bomb was found at Soros’ home in Bedford, New York.
Open Society president Patrick Gaspard said in an open letter to Campbell Soup that the company "has a responsibility to condemn these ‘views’ with the force of the moral suasion your brand has accumulated over decades of patronage from those of us who believe in good corporate citizenship."
Campbell Soup distanced itself from Johnston on Tuesday in an open letter to Open Society, penned by interim CEO and president Keith McLoughlin.
"Johnston’s remarks do not represent the position of Campbell and are inconsistent with how Campbell approaches public debate," McLoughlin wrote in the letter.
Johnston’s tweets came to light when Kenneth Vogel, a reporter at The New York Times, discovered them and pressed Campbell Soup for answers. Johnston’s Twitter account was deleted later on Tuesday.
Johnston is leaving Campbell Soup Company in early November, and the company is moving forward with that timeline, McLoughlin’s letter said.
Johnston wasn’t immediately available for comment. Campbell Soup representatives referred inquiries to its open letter. Open Society representatives were not immediately available for comment.
According to public documents, Johnston lobbied on behalf of Campbell Soup for the NAFTA renegotiation, the steel and aluminum tariffs, and other pieces of legislation over the past year. Johnston has served at Campbell Soup since 2002.