Campbell’s revamps soup cans

Campbell’s tinned soup, the US brand which became a pop icon in the Sixties when featured in Andy Warhol’s silkscreen artworks, has announced it is changing its label design.

The redesign represents the first significant changes to the packaging in more than 100 years.

To halt decreasing sales, the traditional red and white label has been revamped by an in-house team of designers. The size of the gold medallion trademark, won at the Paris Exposition of 1900 for excellence, has been reduced in favour of a photograph of soup in a bowl.

Different coloured banners will carry straplines such as “classics”, “fun favourites” and “special selections”. “The idea is to create a system on the shelves so customers can quickly see the soups by categories,” says a Campbell’s spokesman.

All the original-style cans will be removed from US shelves by mid September, with Campbell’s predicting a rush of collectors trying to grab the last specimens of the design classic.

Aware of its iconic status, the soup company has donated the last can of Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup to the Andy Warhol archives in Pittsburgh.

“It’s a late 1900s American classic like other instant food brands such as Kellogg’s and Quaker’s Oats,” says Catherine McDermott, author of 20th Century Design and teacher of design history at Kingston University.

“Warhol documented a 1960s pop culture but unlike other icons, condensed soup hasn’t survived time,” McDermott says.

The first red and white Campbell’s can was introduced in 1898, after a company executive was inspired by the colours of the Cornell University football team.

Andy Warhol sealed the fame of the brand when he used the design in 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans, first exhibited in Los Angeles in 1962.

By 1990 one billion cans of Campbell’s soup had been produced. In the US an average of 70 cans are purchased every second, equating to 12 billion bowls consumed every year.

Latest articles