Campbell’s Soup & the Art of Subversion
At Lippincott, we work with brands on the precipice of change, helping them to navigate key inflection points in their journey. We’re constantly looking to what’s next on the horizon, while also recognizing the importance of remembering where we came from.
In 1943, engineer Gordon Lippincott and architect Walter Margulies founded Lippincott, bringing to life a shared vision that would lay the foundation for the branding industry we know today.
Initially operating at the intersection of product design and storytelling, Lippincott’s work inspired the concept of corporate identity and created some of the most instantly recognizable designs of the past 75 years—the Coca-Cola ribbon, the reimagined Starbucks Siren and the Duracell copper top, to name a few.
One very special chapter of our story starts in 1946.
That year, a packaged food company approached Lippincott to help redesign their visual branding and develop a cohesive system across multiple product lines. Over the course of the relationship, we created over 20 label redesigns—and, inadvertently, one American icon. The Campbell’s “8 oz Ready-to Serve Soup” label found fame in 1962, when Andy Warhol’s pop art ode officially established it as the embodiment of American consumer culture.
In honor of Warhol’s work and the heritage, timeless design and artistic subversion represented by the Campbell’s Soup can, we asked Lippincotters to re-imagine the classic design in modern and provident ways.
The results? Well, they’re iconic.
Campbell's Pantone - Brendán Murphy, Senior Partner, Design
The Pantone Color System originated in 1963 to allow designers to consistently and accurately select, articulate, and reproduce color during print production.
A year younger than Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, the PCS has become a crucial tool for designers create continuity across print and digital.
Here, Brendán Murphy (Senior Partner, Design) brings a Campbell’s Soup can to life in an instantly recognizable way: through its iconic colors, matched to the Pantone Color System.
Cozy with Campbell's - Amal Baidas, Senior Marketing Designer
Amal Baidas (Senior Marketing Designer) didn’t grow up enjoying Campbell’s on chilly days, but with her imagination and design chops, she translated her interpretation of cozy and soothing into a material embodiment. “It makes me think of wearing a nice warm hoodie on a dreary, cold day—bonus points if it looks cool.”
Making a Splash - Jasmine Chan, Intern
Jasmine Chan (Intern) brings a childlike sense of wonder by reimagining Campbell’s Soup cans as supersized soup swimming pools. Her playful transformation diverges from the commodification that has engulfed consumer packaged goods, instead inspiring us to look for joy in our day-to-day lives.
Campbell's x Midjourney - Justin D'Onforio, Senior Director, Product Experience
The iconic can goes digital. Justin D’Onforio (Senior Director, Product Experience) used AI art generator Midjourney to “turn a Campbell’s can into a robot.”
Midjourney uses AI and machine learning to generate images based on text prompts, similar to DALL-E and Craiyon, with a more artistic flair. The unique training data behind each AI art generator elicits a distinct interpretation style; Midjourney leans whimsical, abstract and a bit weird.
Instead of looking to the past, Justin’s design imagines the Campbell’s Soup can as a vessel for the future.
A Campbell's Story - Lizzie Harris, Partner, Voice
Lizzie Harris (Partner, Voice) proves that paint, pens and Photoshop aren’t the only ways to design. James Atkins (Senior Design Director, Design) illustrated her from-memory account of a 1990s Campbell’s Soup commercial.
Read Lizzie’s story below:
Like many latchkey kids, I was (in large part) raised by television. Even now, the arcs in my favorite shows twist deep in my memory—they mix quietly in with my own childhood friends, my own lessons learned on top of a well-timed laugh track.
It’s not just the cartoons, or coming of age comedies, it’s the commercials, too. Perhaps none more, than the Campbell’s Snowman coming in from the cold to eat a warm bowl of chicken soup. Let me be clear: even then, I was a vegetarian. My family didn’t celebrate Christmas. I grew up without a yard, on a street tightly packed with row homes.
But despite its distance from my own reality , I remember every frame, as if it was my own chilled body, coming in from the snowstorm, unwinding a wooly red scarf from my neck, as an up-tempo “Let it Snow” croons somewhere in the background. Somehow, out of nowhere, a warm bowl of chicken noodle soup presents itself to me, and I grip the spoon with my whole hand, and with each slurp, I’m transformed from my snowy state into a freckled-faced kid, warm from the inside out.
Campbell's National Flag - Rodney Abbot, Senior Partner, Design
Before Rodney Abbot (Senior Partner, Design) immigrated to the United States from New Zealand, he viewed Campbell’s as peak Americana—stability, family values, wholesomeness and honesty.
Superseding embellishment and creative subversion, Rodney envisioned the Campbell’s can as a flag, emblematic of the American ideals, values and virtues that Campbell’s inspires in us all.
Campbell's: Swissted - Amal Baidas, Senior Marketing Designer
Swissted is project by artist and designer Mike Joyce in which he redesigns vintage punk, hardcore, and indie rock show flyers into International Typographic Style posters.
We’ve aptly named Amal Baidas’ (Senior Marketing Designer) interpretation “Campbell’s: Swissted.”It features one major variation from Joyce’s template—it uses Helvetica, “every designers most loved and most hated font in the world”.
Her divergence is a nod to Andy Warhol, whose work embraces, while simultaneously subverting, mainstream capitalist values.
Just Soup - Bethany Lesko, Partner, Design
Bethany Lesko (Partner, Design) challenges us to consider what Campbell’s is without the legacy, iconic branding, and decades of established recognition: soup. By portraying a collection of Campbell’s Soup products without their packaging, Bethany illustrates the impact of branding on how we view the products we use. Her design embodies a provocative sentiment—”without the branding, it’s just soup”.
Adventures with a Campbell's Can - Brendán Murphy, Senior Partner, Design
Bringing our iconic Campbell’s campaign to a close, Brendán Murphy uses his signature whimsical illustration style to tell the story of his character’s many adventures spent alongside the Campbell’s can. Whether holding fishing bait, growing tomato plants, or listening to a tinny serenade to celebrate a new marriage, Brendán’s character shows us what we all know: a can of Campbell’s is more than just soup.
Thank you to all of the talented team members who contributed designs and helped reimagine a piece of Lippincott history!
This post was created by Lippincott and its creative staff and is solely intended as a creative commentary and analysis on an iconic brand. All trademarks mentioned in this posting are the property of their respective owners.