Campbell’s wants you to raise your own tomatoes

The CPG is driving home a message about sustainable agriculture to keep demand from the winter strong through gardening season.

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Campbell’s is adding an extra ingredient to its cans of soup, giving customers tomato seeds that they can plant themselves.

Landing on store shelves during Earth Week, two limited edition, specially marked Creamy Tomato and Garden Vegetable Minestrone soups have a paper disc on top with tomato seeds embedded inside. The discs, which can be planted directly into soil, were developed in collaboration with supply chain partner Seminis, a Bayer-owned developer, grower and marketer of fruit and veggie seeds.

In-store is leading the way for the campaign, with a mass shopper-led rollout including large end-cap displays (see, below) with messaging about how “a more sustainable world can start today.”

“We have long had principles and plans in place that have made us very proud of our sustainability efforts, but we haven’t invested behind that from a consumer-facing standpoint,” says Mieka Burns, VP of marketing at Campbell Canada.

According to the brand, tomatoes are its largest crop, and it harvests over half a billion kilos per year.

“The tomato really is our hero ingredient,” Burns says. “From an iconic standpoint, it is closely associated with Campbell’s and it’s an ingredient we have harvested in partnership with our farming communities for decades.”

The thinking behind the shopper campaign was to make agriculture, specifically, the core of the sustainability message, from managing soil to water conservation to taking care of the produce in a way that’s not overly industrial or harmful to the environment.

“Home gardens are such a nice little epitomization of the care that we think our farmers also put into harvesting each tomato. Consumers have the opportunity to recreate the experience at home,” Burns says.

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Soups were chosen for the push because, out of all of Campbell’s products, soups use a disproportionate amount of tomatoes and vegetables.

In addition to celebrating sustainability as a movement, Campbell’s is looking to get more millennials interested in the canned soup category, as the environment is a big motivator for that demographic. Burns tells strategy Campbell’s will be increasingly focusing on purpose-driven consumers who want to back up their beliefs with their own actions, a group the brand calls “intentional idealists,” especially for its soups and its organic line, Pacific.

The soup category is generating lots of interest during COVID, Burns says, with more lunching at home. In October, Campbell launched a new masterbrand campaign by Leo Burnett to highlight the range of its cooking portfolio. Soup is also being used as a recipe ingredient more, she adds. Rather than experiencing cooking fatigue, Burns says Campbell’s insights have shown Canadians are enjoying expanding the repertoire of dishes they are making at home.

The novelty of the seed program is designed to keep the renewed interest in soup from waning as we enter the warmer seasons.

At first, the seeds will be at Fortinos and Sobeys in Ontario, IGA in Quebec and Calgary Co-op and Buy-Low Foods in the west. The soups are expected to reach all major grocery banners in Canada in June.

As an added element to the LTO, Campbell and Seminis are also launching a special microsite providing more information on the collaboration and sustainability efforts of both brands, such as Campbell reducing food waste by 36% since 2017 and reducing the amount of water used to grow its products.

The campaign site also features videos highlighting a tomato’s journey from seed to soup.

Mars lead shopper marketing efforts and Proof the PR.