Campbell’s Releases New Can Designs

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In a recession, Campbell’s (Stock Quote: CPB) bottom line should be “mmm-mmm” good.

But the soup maker's iconic red-and white can will temporarily give way to an orange and yellow look (more formally known as the “Sun-Ripened Yellow Tomato Soup” and “Harvest Orange Tomato Soup”). The new label is available in 10 U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C., Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Seattle, but “only as supplies last,” the company said in a statement.

And the big chain grocery stores slated to carry the new can design will include Food Lion, Fred Meyer, Giant Eagle and Price Chopper. If you don’t live near a participating city, you may be able to buy the cans directly through the grocery retailers' websites or on the company's “product locator” page.

The limited edition release is the centerpiece of a $100 million rebranding campaign called “It’s Amazing What Soup Can Do." The ad campaign, which launched October 3, features voiceovers from actor Tim Allen.

Campbell’s says the new condensed Sun-Ripened Yellow and Harvest Orange tomato soups “will feature distinctive labels with the colorful tomato on the package.” The cans will retail for $1.59 (the company’s standard tomato soup retails for 95 cents), but collectors know better – Campbell’s is one of the unique brands in business history, and special edition products can translate into big bucks.

This isn't the first time Campbell's has changed its packaging, although it's rare to see a major brand change its colors. It’s tough to imagine Target (Stock Quote: TGT) with a blue circle, or Coca-Cola (Stock Quote: KO) with a purple bottle. In general big brands are loath to tamper too much with the logos and designs that made them famous in the first place.

Still, Campbell’s says this is the first time that its condensed soups are made from yellow and orange tomatoes, which are grown from proprietary seeds from the company’s research center in Davis, Calif. Back in Aug. 2009, Campbell’s Soup tweaked its label a bit by adding a green leaf and seed motif. The new cans were part of the company’s “Help Grow Your Soup” program that was designed to highlight the natural ingredients Campbell’s uses in its soup products. But the cans didn’t last long and special edition issues can be hard to come by when they’re gone.

“It isn't every day that Campbell deviates from its known tradeness," said Darralyn Rieth, director of global design at Campbell's Soup, shortly after the company made its announcement, "but there are times when it makes sense, validates an important idea and brings attention to a good cause.”

Campbell's standard condensed tomato soup is said to be bought by 25 million consumers each week.

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