Andy Warhol painted his first Campbell’s Soup can in 1962, and in its aftermath, the artist and the brand became permanently linked in popular culture. Warhol lunched on the soup daily, a routine that helped set the stage for his exultation of the ordinary. He is quoted as saying: “I just happen to like ordinary things. When I paint them, I don’t try to make them extraordinary. I just try to paint them ordinary-ordinary.”
Over the weekend, Target, a brand known for its TV commercials that inject enthusiasm into household objects, began selling limited edition Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup cans. If the relationship between Warhol and Campbell’s seems like a perfect match, Campbell’s and Target are good bedfellows as well. Last year, Campbell’s got a new CEO and a mandate to make its products more “hip”. I can remember when a new Target sprung up next to K-Mart in my town in the mid-90s, and the former “out-hipped” that latter right out of business.
Campbell’s wasn’t always a fan of Warhol’s work, but by 1964, they realized what a boon it was for their brand. That’s when Campbell’s product manager, William P. Macfarland, wrote Andy a fan letter and sent a couple cases of tomato soup over to The Factory.
There are currently four versions of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup cans available at Target. The 2012 cans are actually the third time Campbell’s has released limited edition Andy Warhol-branded soup cans. They previously sold exclusive cans in 2004 through Giant Eagle Supermarket and in 2006 at Barney’s department store. Compare and contrast the cans here.
The Barney’s cans retailed for $12 each (simply by virtue of being sold at Barney’s New York). The Target cans are just 75 cents each, and they don’t appear to be in any kind of short supply.
Nonetheless, the spirit of capitalism is alive and well in America! With the limited edition cans only available in US Targets, flippers are ready to gauge overseas pop art fans at markups 7-8 times the retail price.
If you live outside of America, don’t pay these ridiculous eBay prices. Chances are, you know someone who can score you some cans. As of yesterday, hashtags for Andy Warhol Soup Cans were in full effect on Instagram. Click through for a selection of photos from around the country.