I can totally understand where Campbell’s Soup was coming from. The youth demographic, now with more spending power than ever, wasn’t buying their soup. They wanted to crack that lucrative market, and I’m sure they paid a creative firm millions of dollars to do it.

This is what they came up with.

(If you can’t view the video, you can find the printed story here.)

Campbell’s, let’s just reiterate what Colbert’s sarcasm is telling you right now:

  • Millennials know when we’re being blatantly marketed to, and we don’t like it.
  • Yes, we spend a lot of time on the internet. No, that doesn’t mean making a Tumblr-like site for your soup will make us buy it.
  • Spotify has nothing whatsoever to do with soup.
  • Nobody in their right mind wants to “build a playlist off the persona of a soup”.
  • You just wasted millions of dollars.

The problem here is a total failure to a) attempt to understand your potential customers and b) to be willing to accept your deficiencies.

campbell's go soup

I suspect if Campbell’s or their agency spent even ten minutes with millennials, they’d know that we aren’t looking for “cooler” soup. More likely? We think their soup comes in flavors that have long since gone out of style (Cream of Celery? Really?), that they’re unhealthy*, and maybe we – gasp – just don’t like soup as much as previous generations. This all comes from listening to your (potential) customers and then understanding exactly why they feel the way they do. This doesn’t come from developing your product in a vacuum of marketers over 40, then giving a few free soups away to consumers and expecting them to love it (which Campbell’s also did this month).

You can flail at marketing gimmicks all you want, but at the end of the day you need to make a better product. Ask your customers for feedback (we’re happy to provide you with the tools to do so). Accept that the problem might be you. Know when a market just isn’t going to be cracked. Just don’t try to sell us soup on social media. We sure as hell won’t be clicking “like”.

*I do give credit to whomever in the organization did convince them to make a soup with quinoa, which many millennials consider extremely healthy (and delicious).

Soup photo courtesy of Whitney.