Campbell's Bizarre Vintage 'Soup On The Rocks' Summer Drink Campaign

Since the start of mass media, brands have been coming up with wild ways to try to market their products. While most ad campaigns end up being fairly forgettable, some go down in history as smashing successes ... and others are so bizarre or unappealing they firmly plant themselves in our collective consciousness. In that vein of "What were they thinking?" ad campaigns stands a surprisingly long-lived Campbell's Soup scheme, "Soup on the rocks."

As history recalls, from 1955 to sometime in the mid-70s, the canned food giant made an all-out attempt to make soup cocktails a thing. The brand marketed its products — particularly beef bouillon — as an ingredient (or full-on non-alcoholic substitute) for party drinks. As part of this huge marketing blitz, Campbell's put out full-page, color advertisements in numerous magazines promoting soup on the rocks, a drink made of canned beef bouillon poured over ice. This could include Worcestershire sauce or lemon for a refreshing element to the beverage.

Campbell's committed to the campaign by bringing in celebrities and creating new drinks

In addition to the print ads, Campbell's went all-in to get celebrity endorsements. Atlas Obscura notes that the brand actually sent out packages including the soup, ice buckets, and recipe cards to magazine editors and actors marketing them as "a summertime drink." These were even gifted to athletes since part of the promotion was that this drink was "healthy" and helped restore electrolytes after exercise, like a beefy precursor to Gatorade.

An alcoholic version of the drink featuring vodka along with Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and lemon known as the Bullshot or "Ox on the Rocks" did enjoy a brief stint of popularity in the '50s as a sort of joke, but it's unclear how many people became fans of soup on the rocks. Still, Campbell's stuck with the promotion for years, creating other variations, including the "Frisky Sour," which was beef broth, water, and lemon served in a champagne flute. Even in 2021, the soup brand tried making "Brothtails" happen, although they seem to have taken off on Canadian social media with limited success.