Campbell Soup is marking the 50th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s iconic soup can paintings with 1.2 million limited edition soup cans for a mere 75 cents at Target stores. This “life imitating art imitating life” scenario is a little ironic, when you consider that in 1964, the company considered taking legal action before deciding to see how the paintings were received by the public. After the paintings became a phenomenon, the company was pleased, and why wouldn’t they be? Talk about free publicity. They then commissioned Warhol to do a painting of a Campbell’s tomato soup can for $2000 as a parting gift for its retiring board chairman, Oliver G. Willits.
The classic red-and-white cans made their debut in 1898, with a handful of minor design revisions over the years. Target will carry four versions of the Warhol cans, all with quotes from the artist including the obvious “In the future everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes.” Ebay entrepreneurs will likely clear the shelves out quickly and turn their garages into bizarre shrines to the artist. Warhol, always the impeccable businessman, would like this project for its cross promotional components. If you’re lucky enough to find a white wig inside your can, you get to tour the Factory and meet the Oompa-Loompas.