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.