03 March 2009

Tropicana's Conundrum

Browsing all the news about the Tropicana redesign and subsequent reestablishment of the old design, I wondered what did the online RFP look like? Did anyone even think of digital until Arnell's designs were set in stone? What would their goals be? Luckily, New Media Strategies (NMS) gave me a peek into a social media strategy for Tropicana.

"Engage bloggers and online communities by increasing brand awareness of Tropicana through its Election-week AnOrangeAmerica campaign"

Hmm...ok, ride the coat-tails of the election to increase brand awareness. What does orange juice have to do with politics? And why is a beverage giving me a data visualization of the Twitterverse? I appreciate it, but I'd probably turn to CNN or Twitter itself for more accurate election info. As for the data viz, it looks pretty enough but needs to be closely examined to actually pull any information out of it. I’m not sure what exactly I’m looking at.

So did they accomplish their strategy? NMS says that online placements and messages totaled over 4.6 million impressions. AnOrangeAmerica received thousands (1,000? or 10,000?) of visitors to the site with approximately 15% clicking through to watch a Tropicana commercial. That’s raising brand awareness with a pretty small group of twittering, politics-hungry folks who dig data visualization.

Also, upon closer investigation the "buzz" NMS says they created and documented with Delicious is actually a bunch of their own people talking about their own project. I appreciate the effort to try something new by both NMS and JESS3, but it just doesn't seem very "on brand" to me. I can picture someone in a meeting saying "wouldn't it be cool to use Twitter and data viz and the election for this project" but it doesn’t seem a logical extension of an orange juice brand.

Yes, passionate Tropicana fans exist. Facebook alone has 10 unofficial Tropicana groups. Perhaps Tropicana would have been better served talking to those folks? Maybe even getting some feedback on the new branding? They might’ve saved themselves the trouble of re- and subsequently un-rebranding.

And for the record, while Peter Arnell's description of the branding made me LOL, I do like the little orange screw top. Nice touch.

Something to think about:
Maybe the problem is the fact that we call it "digital strategy" instead of just "strategy." It tends to make people think about the digital opportunities in terms of specific executions rather than thinking holistically about reaching out to real people in ways that make sense in both the real and digital world.

Posted via email from i make experiences.


Sam Huxley said...

Hi Tina,

Thanks for your interest in our work, and also for a non-Skittles related Twitter Marketing post. I wanted to clarify a few things about the campaign that you might want to update your post with:

* This project was not related to an overall Tropicana online RFP.

* While NMS and JESS3 employees promoted the campaign, fully disclosed, we were a fraction of the 70+ blogs and news outlets that picked up AnOrangeAmerica. For example, Micah Sifry of Tech President covered it: Link
as did Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic: Link - I can assure you that neither is an NMS employee, and I would appreciate it if you could take another look and update your post to reflect that all of our own coverage was disclosed, and that "a bunch of their own people talking about their own project" did not make up significant part of the reach, or the placements. The fact that most of the Del.icio.us links are listed chronologically may have thrown you off, and if you look at the following result pages you will see most of the coverage I'm talking about and more documented there.

In response to your "What does orange juice have to do with politics...I'd probably turn to CNN or Twitter itself" comment, brands have associated themselves with different lifestyle interests since the beginning of marketing. One could also ask what a car brand has to do with music, almost any kind of sports sponsorship, or movie tie in. Elevating brand attributes above product relevance is a widespread strategy, especially for CPGs. I've done a lot of great work with Big SpaceShip in the past, and please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions I can clarify for you on this or any other campaign. Thanks,
-Sam Huxley
shuxley (at) newmediastrategies.net

tiboutoo said...


Thanks for expanding on NMS work with Tropicana. It always helps to get details from the inside and to help readers get more accurate information.

Your statement that "brands have associated themselves with different lifestyle interests since the beginning of marketing" is definitely shared by most advertisers and brands themselves. But I wonder if consumers see the connections (or care about them) as much as we think they do. Not that I'm faulting NMS, when you get a brief from a brand like Tropicana, you feel compelled to broaden the reach beyond the brand attributes themselves.

Thanks for the props to Big Spaceship. The respect definitely goes both ways.