Battle of the Soups

A comparative ad war has begun! What’s this? An advertisement in which there is specific mention or presentation of competing brand(s) and a comparison is made or implied.

No, I’m not talking about all of the mud being slung in the race for the White House. It’s a battle of the soups. Campbell Soup Co. and its top competitor, General Mills Inc. have been having an MSG-based-battle through the media.

The first to attack was Campbell Soup with an ad that stated “Bring your Dictionary” over a can of Progresso soup, highlighting the ingredient list full of words such as sodium stearoyl lactylate and hydrolyzed corn protein. Over the Campbell’s can, “Bring your appetite.” Also flung at Progresso was “No artificial flavors. No MSG. Real ingredients. Real taste.”

General Mills, Inc. wasn’t about to take that though. Last week they ran ads stating “Campbell’s has 95 soups made with MSG. Progresso has 26 delicious soups with no MSG. (And more to come.)”

Studies have shown that MSG rarely has any effect on its consumers. So why are these companies going to such lengths to brawl over the ingredient?

Campbell Soup says they are just giving the people what they want, a recognizable ingredient list. General Mill’s take: “We have been focused on taste and weight management and [on] bringing innovation to the market,” said spokesperson Tom Forsythe. “More than three million households have moved to Progresso soup in the last two years alone. So we do think we have Campbell’s attention.”

In the beginning of October both companies were at 52-week highs on the stocks, and 17 days into the month, both companies have taken a hit on the DOW. Could we be sick of negative advertising, or has the economy begun to take its toll on soup? What do you think about the effects of comparative advertising? Have you had enough of the name-calling or are you in a corner rooting for your favorite warm bowl of soup?

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