Reintroducing an Icon
This is an important time for Campbell. We’re targeting millennials and looking to introduce our brand to new generations. Our new “We All Soup” campaign is about unity across cultures. And to succeed, we have to get close to our consumer and understand how different demographics and cultures view our brand so we know how we can connect with them and engage with them.
I joined this company as president in the summer of 2014, and my top priority was to reorganize our marketing team to ensure we have the right focus, partners, and processes to be close to the consumers, understand emerging trends, and develop the right products. It’s going to take collaboration with the right teams in place for this to work.
Throughout my career, I’ve seen time and time again just how important teamwork and cultural insights are. That started during my childhood in Colombia and continued when I did my MBA in France. I started my career with Procter & Gamble and later held top marketing and general management roles for SC Johnson in the United States, Brazil, and Canada.
Canada via Colombia
In joining Campbell Company of Canada, I came into the food industry after more than twenty years in the home-care business. I was attracted to the vision cast by our CEO and other leaders, along with the mandate they gave me to help build this iconic food company into an even greater organization. My role is part of bringing that to life. But to do that, I have to do more than understand the cultural complexities that play out in the market—I also have to understand our internal culture at Campbell and how business is done in this country.
Campbell’s has been in Canada for eighty-five years and is a leading brand with more than seven hundred employees here. We are working to take the organization to a greater level of performance, and we’re using culture as a key catalyst to improve accountability and decision-making while empowering bolder ideas to drive growth in the market.
Most of my career was in Latin America, where personal relationships are very important in the workplace. It’s different here in Canada. Professional culture varies. Canadians are extremely nice and polite. They want to make others feel good. That is a positive thing, but it can make conversations about performance difficult because the tendency is often to avoid conflict.
Being from the outside brings an advantage because I can see what we’re missing. I know the value of honest conversations, especially for a company that is trying to accomplish something new and achieve a transformation. If we can’t debate important ideas, we’ll be missing the key input we need. Part of my work is to create the environment where we can have those difficult conversations in a safe and appropriate way.
Healthy Debate Makes Healthier Food
When we take what we know about our consumers’ culture and also harness the strengths of our internal culture, we can do something special. Our biggest push right now involves an ambitious call-to-action about making great tasting food affordable for all families while driving profitable growth. We’ve worked with leadership teams across North America to define the key behaviours we need to shift internally and the capabilities we need to develop to get us there.
One of those behaviours is healthy debate. We’ve defined what that looks like and developed a learning program about how and when to debate in a way that delivers powerful ideas and enables fast decision-making. We’ve coupled that with decision-making rights and accountability initiatives that will help us become faster and more effective. We simply have to be as fast or faster than the marketplace. We have to grasp where the consumer is going, and we have to be in tune with them.
We redesigned the marketing group and established that we’re all about being intimately close to our consumers and how they engage with us. Then we built our strategy and brand communication plan based on what the consumer is looking for. We’ve moved from a more traditional mass-media approach to a more engagement-based approach. Our “We All Soup” campaign for our red and white icon brand plays on that idea.
DID YOU KNOW?
Each year, farms within one hundred miles of Campbell’s Toronto plant supply 5 million kg of carrots, 6 million kg of potatoes, and 2 million kg of mushrooms.
Trying New Recipes
In early 2016, we launched the Cantina by Campbell’s, a pop-up restaurant we placed on Toronto’s Queen Street West to get our products out in front of the consumer in a new way. Celebrity chef Matt Dean Pettit created special recipes with Campbell’s soup products, and consumers had the chance to sample his recipes for free while learning how to incorporate Campbell’s in their home cooking.
People came out to help us donate canned goods, try our soups, and take home recipes. It was proof for us that we can get millennials and others to engage with our brand in new ways. Younger people know about us but they don’t really buy our soups because they view us as the brand their parents cook with. So this was a way for us to give them a chance to rediscover our brand through an experience. We had more than sixty thousand soups served over the three weeks of the Cantina. I was proud that our team worked together to take what it knew about the consumer and bring this project from idea to reality in a matter of months. We’re now considering other ways to continue this approach.
As we move forward, the biggest challenge is boosting growth. Almost every single household in Canada has our soups, but the question is how we grow that and entice new customers into what we’re doing. That’s what we’re focusing our time and energy on today. We do that through consumer research and listening through all the traditional methods, but we’re also turning more to social media. Marketing has gone more digital as we go to two-way marketing, leveraging different social platforms. Another tool is our own workforce. We have more millennials working here than ever before, and we’re tapping into them to evaluate the different ideas we have to make those ideas even more robust.
Consumers are changing. Their expectations are different now, and they demand a new level of quality and innovation. The desire to eat “real” is a trend that we think is going to stick for Canadians. Another is the desire for transparency from big companies. We love that trend, because we’re fully committed to operating in a sustainable way, to being a socially responsible company, and to increasing the information we share about our products. We want to enable more conversations with the consumer about what’s in our food and about what we do for the environment and for our community.
We have a remarkable team here, and we’ve spent the last couple of years executing on a new vision and laying a solid foundation that we can build upon to do some special things in the future. I’m excited about where we are, and even more excited to see where we can go from here.”