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Target Lands Soup Exclusive

September 4, 2012

With its steady rollout of limited edition collections from Missoni, Liberty of London and others, Target has regularly gained wide media attention and added to its fashion cred. With an exclusive Campbell's soup can line celebrating Andy Warhol, it appears to be extending the buzz to the grocery side.

On Sunday, Target began selling limited edition cans of Campbell's condensed tomato soup bearing labels reminiscent of Andy Warhol's famous paintings.

The promotion marks the 50th anniversary of the exhibition where Mr. Warhol first showed 32 Campbell's Soup Cans at LA's Ferus Gallery in 1962. Each of the thirty-two canvases depicted a variety of soup displayed side-by-side as on a grocery store shelf. The paintings helped launch Warhol's career and ushered in Pop Art as a major art movement in the U.S.

The new cans come in four color schemes mimicking Warhol's pop art style, along with famed Warhol quotes, such as, "In the future, everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes" as well as, "But I always say one's company, two's a crowd, and three's a party."

The 1.2 million limited-edition cans cost 75 cents each at retail. Already on eBay, however, sets of four are on auction for between $6.99 and $25.00.

The eBay auction mirrors the attention and reseller action caused by Target's other limited edition introductions. The biggest was the October 2011 launch of a limited edition collection from Missoni. At the time, the high volume of online orders for Missoni merchandise crashed Target's website. On eBay, Missoni for Target dresses were being resold on for $100 to $200 more than the retail price. According to the New York Times, a Missoni for Target multi-colored bicycle retailed for $399.99 and sold on eBay for $1,279.95.

With "limited edition" perhaps stretching the limit at 1.2 million cans and RetailWire finding an ample assortment of cans in a visit early Sunday evening at Target's store in East Hanover, NJ, the auction prices on eBay appeared artificially high in the collection's early launch days. But like Target's fashion launches, the Warhol collection has gained extensive media coverage.

For Campbell Soup, the launch plays to both its roots and its recent push to reach Millennials. Facing years of sluggish sales, the 140-year-old brand has been acknowledging that younger generations aren't as fond of soup as their parent Boomers and even less so than their grandparents. To appeal to Millennials, a Go Soup premium line was recently launched that comes in pouches for convenience and exotic flavors such as Moroccan Style Chicken with Chickpeas.

Limited edition launches are fairly common in the grocery channel, especially in cereals and sodas, but exclusive arrangements are rare and most appear smaller than the Target/Campbell's launch.

FINANCIALS:     [NYSE:TGT] [ ]

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