Campbell's and the NFL: Tackling Hunger
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Holmes Report

Campbell's and the NFL: Tackling Hunger

To generate awareness about a national issue, Campbell’s Chunky Soup partnered with the National Football League (NFL) to create the Tackling Hunger 2000 program.

Paul Holmes

According to the USDA, more than 31 million Americans do not always know where their next meal will come from. The Campbell Soup Company has made a corporate commitment to help make an impact on the U.S. hunger crisis. To generate awareness about this national issue, Campbell’s Chunky Soup partnered with the National Football League (NFL) to create the Tackling Hunger 2000 program. The program’s goal was to donate 5 million cans of Campbell’s soup to food banks nationwide during the NFL season by encouraging participation from NFL teams and Campbell’s consumers.

Compiling national hunger statistics provided relevant information to guide the Tackling Hunger program. By looking at donation trends, BSMG determined that a multi-phased approach would most benefit food banks. Food banks reach dangerously low levels of food during the summer months, receive the most attention near Thanksgiving, and experience another dip in donations following the holidays.
Based on the research, Tackling Hunger 2000 began in the summer during NFL training camps, peaked again in November when helping the hungry is top-of-mind due to Thanksgiving, and finished with a final “push” (literally) during the Super Bowl in late January to help offset the post-holiday donation lull.
BSMG also used this research to determine key messages that clearly communicated the need for a national hunger relief program. 
Campbell’s challenged BSMG to create a hunger relief program that would generate awareness for Tackling Hunger 2000 throughout the NFL football season. At the same time, the program needed to raise consumer awareness and purchase of Chunky Soup.

  • Donate more than 5 million cans of soup to food banks nationwide
  • Generate 58-61 million consumer impressions with a CPM of $8.90-$9.36
  • Build overall awareness for the Tackling Hunger 2000 program and Chunky Soup

Strategy: To maintain a high level of public attention for Tackling Hunger 2000 throughout the NFL season, a three-phase strategy was developed:
Phase 1: Lineman Weigh-ins
Conduct during the summer when food banks reach critically low levels
Capitalize on the beginning of football season and high volume of media attention at NFL training camps
Phase 2: November Food Drives
Conduct food drives during November when public support is peaking for donations
Incorporate an on-line option called “Click For Cans” to drive direct consumer participation via the Web site
Phase 3: Super Bowl Showdown
Conduct a national event during Super Bowl week featuring a competition between the AFC and NFC football conferences
Make a final donation of 1 million cans and highlight the program’s total donation results
Target Audience: Because of Campbell’s mass appeal, BSMG was presented with an opportunity to reach a broad audience of American consumers, above and beyond the company’s primary target of women aged 25-54.
Tactics: For each phase, the following tactics were employed:

  • Create news by inviting the media to attend events and/or announce events to their audiences
  • Distribute press materials to TV, print and radio outlets
  • Film b-roll at the final Super Bowl event and release to TV nationwide

Budget: $515,000
Phase 1: Lineman Weigh-ins
The team decided to kick-off the first phase of the Tackling Hunger 2000 program during NFL training camp by conducting “Lineman Weigh-Ins,” where some of the NFL’s “chunkiest” linemen were recruited to participate.
A giant soup spoon scale was created to act as the “vehicle” to generate donations, as well as to peak interest about Tackling Hunger 2000 and Chunky Soup. The Tacking Hunger team visited 20 NFL training camps, where lineman sat on one end of the 12-foot spoon while the other end was stacked with cans of Campbell’s Chunky Soup. Once the scale balanced, Campbell’s donated 10 times the player’s weight in Chunky Soup to a local food bank. To give the program a media boost, members of the media also were invited to get on the soup spoon scale and their weight in Chunky Soup was added to the total donation.
Focusing on the NFL’s “chunkiest” football players was a natural fit with Campbell’s Chunky Soup. The pre-season timing was a perfect kick-off for the campaign since food bank supplies traditionally reach critical lows during the summer months.
Phase 2: November Food Drives
The second phase of the program was executed at the beginning of the holiday season to encourage people to donate food to the less fortunate. BSMG worked with media in 13 NFL markets to announce team food drives. At each food drive event, Campbell’s donated a ton—literally—of Chunky Soup to a local food bank.
A national overlay sought media attention for a special “Click for Cans” page of the Web site. Fans were invited to click on the logo of their favorite NFL team and Campbell’s would donate one can of Chunky Soup for every click. “Click for Cans” was featured in media across the country and triggered a viral e-mail that increased traffic to by more than 1,000 percent over previous months. More than 3 million people visited the site, translating to 3 million cans of soup donated.
Phase 3: Super Bowl Showdown
The final phase of the program was the Tackling Hunger 2000 Super Bowl Showdown. The AFC faced off against the NFC five days before the Super Bowl for the final donation—1 million cans of soup. Denver Bronco Terrell Davis and St. Louis Ram Kurt Warner, co-captains of the Tackling Hunger 2000 campaign, lead players from their conferences in a tackling sled race. Football great Joe Theismann acted as referee as each team raced its sled—loaded down with Chunky Soup—to the end zone.  After crossing the line first, Campbell’s donated 1 million cans of soup on behalf of Terrell Davis and the AFC. 
Media attention generated across the country created awareness for the Tackling Hunger 2000 program and America’s hunger problem. The coverage also encouraged consumers to donate canned foods of their own to local food banks—thus multiplying Campbell’s efforts.
The program generated more than 95.8 million media impressions, delivering a $5.66 CPM and achieving 165 percent of the 58-61 million impressions goal. More importantly, more than 6.5 million cans of soup were donated to food banks nationwide, surpassing the goal of 5 million cans for the entire NFL season.
Overall results included:

  • 300 television placements, including stories on CNN and ESPN
  • 63 newspaper stories including placements in the New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Chicago Sun Times, Philadelphia Daily News and Miami Herald
  • 292 radio placements
  • 31 Internet placements
  • 71 members of the media were weighed in on the giant soup spoon scale
  • The media raised the total donation by 27,985 cans of Chunky Soup
  • 95 percent of reporters who got on the spoon featured a story about Tackling Hunger
  • More than 151,000 cans of Campbell’s Soup were donated to local food banks during July and November
  • An average of more than 7,500 cans per NFL team
  • More than 3 million cans of Chunky Soup were donated to food banks nationwide via the November “Click for Cans” effort
  • The more than 6.5 million cans of soup donated generated the equivalent of 13 million meals for the less fortunate

Analysis of the placements further showed that the three-phase program achieved the team’s objective of building awareness for Tackling Hunger and Chunky Soup throughout the NFL season. Many media outlets reported on the story during each phase of the program. NFL teams already are asking to participate in a 2001 program.

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