Campbell’s to Sell Special Andy Warhol Soup Cans, and What Makes Those Cans Art Anyway

When Mad Men kicked off its fifth sea­son ear­li­er this year, we encoun­tered Don Drap­er and Peg­gy Olson brain­storm­ing an adver­tis­ing cam­paign for Heinz baked beans. The goal? To make this sta­ple of the Amer­i­can diet sex­i­er to a younger gen­er­a­tion. It’s a peren­ni­al prob­lem for many tra­di­tion­al brands, some­thing that real-world com­pa­nies con­tend with day in, day out. Take Camp­bel­l’s Soup for exam­ple. As part of a broad­er effort to make its prod­ucts “more eth­nic, more hip,”  the com­pa­ny found­ed in 1869 plans to sell 1.2 mil­lion cans with art­work inspired by Andy Warhol.

Of course, Warhol is the artist who famous­ly began pro­duc­ing silkscreens of Camp­bel­l’s soup cans back in 1962. When Andy first cre­at­ed these icon­ic pieces of pop art, Camp­bel­l’s was none too pleased. In fact, the com­pa­ny con­sid­ered hit­ting him with a law­suit. But, by 1964, they were send­ing him nice let­ters and free cas­es of soup, and they also com­mis­sioned him to make a paint­ing for the fir­m’s retir­ing chair­man. Now 50 years lat­er, they’re hop­ing that Warhol’s pop art can get their sag­ging sales going again.

The soup cans will go on sale at Tar­get, start­ing this Sun­day, for 75 cents a pop. In the mean­time, we’ll leave you with this — Sal Khan (Khan Acad­e­my) and Steven Zuck­er (Smarthis­to­ry) explain­ing what makes Warhol’s art, art. And, by the way, I spot­ted Sal at the local gro­cery store tonight. Should have said hi. It’s a small world.

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  • lyle jokela says:

    For sale at Tar­get this Sun­day 75 cents. I don’t get it, I’m sure Andy W. would crap his pants with laugh­ter. Sun­day morn­ing all the hip­sters will be lined up to buy cas­es of this stuff…food that will nev­er be con­sumed only trea­sured like explod­ing six packs of Bil­ly Beer.

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