The Radical Notion

Encouraging women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians

Verdict IN: Campbell’s > Progresso December 31, 2008

I’ve never been much of a soup person; that is, of any soup other than chicken noodle without chicken chunks or anything besides broth and a shit-ton of noodles (I’m not proud of my pickiness). However, I may need to start buying more soup, at least if it’s from Campbell’s, as they have just taken a small but significant step towards equality.

Now, ostensibly, what they did isn’t that big of a deal. They simply took out a four-page ad in The Advocate, an LGBT magazine, advertising their products (here’s what they looked like). Three out of the four ads are lone men talking about the wonderfulness that is Campbell’s, but one features two women and a young boy. The accompanying text makes it clear that the women are a lesbian couple and the boy is their son. And they like to make soup with him. They like to use Swanson’s broth in that soup, and even include a recipe of a soup that one of the women likes to make.

After this, they glued his eyelids open and forced him to watch the entire canon of the L-Word.

After this, they glued his eyelids open and forced him to watch the entire canon of the L-Word.

Horribly subversive, no? Well, to the surprise of, I think, a negative number of people, the American Family Association thinks so; in three sentences they manage to get in two references to the everpresent Homosexual Agenda:

Campbell Soup Company has openly begun helping homosexual activists push their agenda. […]They also gave their approval to the entire homosexual agenda.

I actually think the AFA hit the nail on the head with this one. Soup is, in fact, an integral part in the implementation of the Homosexual Agenda, providing valuable nourishment for our endeavors (which include turning all fetuses that we don’t manage to abort before term gay and switching all crucifixion iconography with that of the much more homoerotic St. Sebastian) when latte-sipping and tofu-munching don’t do the trick. As John Barrowman says, “First soup, then the bathhouses!” Soup, when you think about it, is a remarkably liberal dish: all those different ingredients, stewing together, imparting their flavors to each other, everyone improving because of the diversity of the pot…I can see why social conservatives would disapprove of the sensual and catholic (small c) nature of it.

But perhaps there’s more to this objection than meets the eye. In the above quote, I ellipsed out the middle of the three sentences in the AFA’s official statement. 

Campbell Soup Company has openly begun helping homosexual activists push their agenda. Not only did the ads cost Campbell’s a chunk of money, but they also sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of support. They also gave their approval to the entire homosexual agenda [emphasis added].

Lo and behold, their true motivation reveals itself. The mere fact that Campbell’s ad – in an LGBT magazine – didn’t castigate lesbian women for existing, having children, or cooking soup is a moral outrage. Anybody who claims that the homophobic organizations in this country – for example, most of the people instrumental in passing prop 8 – advocate anything other than hate or fear, is talking out of their ass. It’s not about “the traditional definition of marriage”, it’s not about disease rates, it’s not about the First Amendment, and it most certainly isn’t about the children. As the (unironic) Conservapedia entry on the Homosexual Agenda makes clear, the real outrage is that

“The agenda of homosexual activists is basically to change America from what they perceive as looking down on homosexual behavior, to the affirmation of and societal acceptance of homosexual behavior.”

I don’t know why, and I frankly don’t care. But it is important to remember this: the fact that anything remotely resembling equality, acceptance, a modicum of tolerance or normalcy for LGBT people, is enough to provoke a nationwide mailing campaign against a soup company.

I seem to have strayed a bit from my original post; it was about how I loved Campbell’s. Here’s why:

Campbell rep Anthony Sanzio said the company stands behind the ads.

“Our position on this is pretty straightforward. Inclusion and diversity play an important role in our business, and that fact is reflected in our marketing plan,” he said. “For more than a century people from all walks for life have enjoyed Campbell’s products, and we will continue to try to communicate in ways that are meaningful and relevant to them.”

The kicker, of course, is that this just makes good fiscal sense. Advertising with visibly LGBT people in an LGBT publication is the way to sell soup. It’s possible that Anthony Sanzio doesn’t give a flying filibuster about gay rights or equality, and is just trying to make money. But the fact that he at least pays lip service to “inclusion and diversity”, characterizes this business approach as “straightforward”, and mentions people from “all walks of life” puts him miles above a lot of other corporations. So good on you, Campbell’s. I’ll buy your broth, if I ever get in the hankering for some noodle soup.

Oh, and my favorite line from Campbell’s rep Sanzio?

Sanzio said plans for the Swanson brand include further placements in The Advocate.


More on SoupGate 2008: The Curvature, Right Wing Watch, and Pam’s House Blend.

Note: I need to make a list of companies that I do and do not wish to support. Next to Campbell’s, a prominent company on that list would be Hallmark – for all their flaws, they won me over this summer when they started carrying cards for same-sex couples (a move that, of course, provoked similar outrage from the asshats). It’s pretty pathetic when companies that just choose to market their products to a wider variety of people – a decision that could be made entirely in their own self-interest – deserve special accolades. But they do, so…know any others off the top of your head?


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