Where is the Tropicana Orange Juice?

In another brilliant example of throwing design and branding out the window, Tropicana has decided to genericize their brand and the packaging of their top selling product.

And so, I will go on a rant….

Which one looks better to you?

Old Package vs. New Package

Having lived in Florida for over a decade, and graduated from the University of Florida (Go Gators!), I know something about orange juice.  I even have friends who have PHd’s in agronomy and who have been taste testers at Tropicana in Bradenton, Florida.  I know more about Valencia oranges, brix counts, and soil composition for growing oranges than I should.  I even had a fabulous orange tree in our back yard in south Tampa.

With that as a background, I will tell you that I start every day with a glass of orange juice, and 99% of the time it is Tropicana Pure Premium.  It is a fantastic orange juice, and you can even buy it in bulk at Costco (2 gallons at a time).  And not only is the taste a premium, but so is the price.  But I am OK with that because I love the sweet taste of a cold glass of Tropicana Pure Premium in the morning.  On a cold winter day in Michigan it transports me right back to Siesta Key.

So I am very disappointed to see the branding geniuses at Tropicana follow the lead of the hacks at General Mills who run branding for Raisin Nut Bran (read my thoughts here) by abandoning their distinctive logo and unique package design for a cold, boring packaging treatment worthy of the cheapest generic juice.

I don’t want to drink “orange juice”.  I want to drink “Pure Premium” orange juice.

This new package is boring, unattractive, and completely generic.  The distinctive logo is gone.  When my kids saw it, their immediate reaction was “What’s that?  Where is the Tropicana?”.  Not only were they suspicious of drinking inferior orange juice, but there was an underlying inference that Dad bought the cheap stuff.

Why on earth would you destroy your brand equity that way?  It makes no sense to me.  Someone is trying to make their mark, or is following some design trend philosophy that abandons uniqueness and favors “simple, clean, green” design.  Well, its time to wake up and smell the boredom!

Lesson: if you have a premium product that commands a premium price, then you had better put it in a premium package.

The folks at Tropicana did learn this lesson with their new “Pure Valencia” juice.  It tastes like it came fresh from the grove five minutes ago.  It is a phenomenal juice, and it costs nearly double what Pure Premium costs.   And the packaging is elegant, and shows the product beautifully.  The kids don’t call Dad “cheap” when we serve that one!

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16 Responses to “Where is the Tropicana Orange Juice?”

  1. Chris Kaufman on January 23rd, 2009:

    I’ll miss the orange with the straw in it–it was a great metaphor and highly identifiable with the brand.

    Another big mistake with this redesign, there are 15 different products in the line that have the EXACT SAME CARTON. Unless you are a expert in the color coding rationale of the Tropicana design team, there is no easy way to differentiate products on the shelf. Even the kids’ version of the juice has the same “adult” packaging. No kids, no primary colors, cartoons, etc. Nothing to set it apart.

    Have a look at the family: http://www.tropicana.com/products/Tropicana+Pure+Premium/index.html

  2. Michael Baird on January 23rd, 2009:

    It seems to be Pepsico wide…

    Gatorade – changed to a just a “G” on their packaging and is now running one of the worst commercials ever “What is G?”. The spot has absolutely NOTHING to do or even mentions the product, benefits, anything.

    Pepsi – WHY? Why change the swirl logo? They spent 46 years to develop and refine that image and they destroy it in one swish of a pen. If you put there new logo up on a wall with no word mark…who would know what it was? Why do that? Why start over? All the equity, gone!

    On Pepsi’s website, about the new design they say “We look forward without losing site of our past.” Actually Pepsico, you seems to have completely ignored your past with all three of these products!

  3. David Hall on January 23rd, 2009:

    Is it really as simple as a new guy bucking decades of tradition and equity to make his own mark that may or not work? Unfortunately I think it is because it sure isn’t great decision making. I would love to hear the rationale behind making changes like the Tropicana one becasue I couldn’t agree with you more. Talk about a staple that got wasted. Ultimately these CEO’s get talked into this BS by some new hotshot marketing guy that oftentimes doesn’t care about a companies past or future. Just a guy trying to be creative and make his mark. It’s one thing if business is way down and you need a jolt, it’s another if you are just making changes for change sake. Very slippery. That new packaging sucks. Bottom line.

  4. David Hall on January 23rd, 2009:

    By the way Baird, you are right on with the Gatorade G. What a complete waste of money. I had to go online just to see what it was after I saw about 5 million dollars of commercials. What are they thinking?

  5. Bryan Stapp on January 23rd, 2009:

    Chris – thanks for adding the link to the Tropicana “Hall of Blandness”. I just realized that the orange color on the new packaging is supposed to be a glass of OJ. Lets go back to basics – if you want to show me a glass of OJ to when my appetite, then make it look like one. Instead, we have an abstract image designed to “invoke a sense of orangey goodness” or something like that. I thought the printer was running low on orange ink.

    Michael – I completely agree with your comments on Pepsi and Gatorade (a University of Florida invention, hence the name). Wait for my review of the new Sierra Mist packaging which also follows this new trend of minimalist dull design.

  6. Grace Dunklee Cohen, Anthorne Group PR on January 23rd, 2009:

    My family had the same reaction to the rebrand, Bryan. At the OJ cooler in the market we were at first astounded that the premium brand was completely missing from the shelves, then even more astounded to realize that the premium brand now looked more low-end than the cheapo juice. What ever happened to focus groups and A-B testing? PS – we chose another brand (and liked it)!

  7. Bryan Stapp on January 23rd, 2009:

    Looks like a few other folks have noticed the same brilliant packaging – here are some other great thoughts on this subject:

    http://elliottback.com/wp/tropicana-orange-juice-redesign/

    http://whenindoubtdo.blogspot.com/2009/01/new-and-sucky-tropicana-orange-juice.html

    http://refineddesigner.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/tropicana-orange-juice-has-a-new-design/

  8. A.A. Stoddard on January 23rd, 2009:

    My speculation is that tropicana is actually attempting to genericize their not-from-concentrate (NFC) brands, because in essence they have become the standard for orange juice. When OJ shifted from concentrate to NFC back in the 1980′s, they created a premium brand of better quality that commanded a premium price. NFC OJ no longer commands the premium it once did because nearly all OJ is NFC.

    New juice blends, energy drinks, specialty teas w/ juices, especially those with blueberry and pomegranate, have been eating into OJ market share for some time. Fla. Dept. of Citrus’s (FDOC) advertizing efforts are simply maintenance in nature, and are not doing anything to improve market share. In Florida citrus, the brands really don’t do a lot of marketing, the largest ad/marketing budget is FDOC’s, which is funded through the citrus box tax. In my opinion, those are the folks that really need some marketing help. Many in the citrus industry look back to the Anita Bryant days as the last effective FDOC marketing campaign.

    I suspect that you are seeing another effort by Tropicana to re-create a premium brand with more of a fresh-squeezed flavor (which the NFCs still can’t match), or the introduction of blends (their website confirms this – http://www.tropicana.com). Also, you may see more value pricing by Tropicana to increase sales volume of their NFC OJ.

    The other issue in Florida citrus right now are two diseases, one a perennial scourge (citrus canker), the other a recent asian exotic (citrus greening). Both have severely affected supply with area quarantines. I suspect tropicana is importing a lot more brazilian juice, so they may want to also re-brand “from Florida”, when and if the Florida supply is more reliable. There is nothing on the new packaging indicating “from Florida”.

    One interesting thing on their website right now is that their home page features the new carton design, but when one clicks to look at varieties or packaging alternatives, they get the old package design.

    One must assume that they think they know what they are doing.

  9. Lakeshia Reid on January 23rd, 2009:

    I honestly can’t believe that someone approved the changes. I was unaware of the change up until now, and the reason why I missed it is obvious. Stemming from Cohen’s and Stoddard’s post, I feel as if the rebrand was an attempt at making Tropicana look more affordable. The economy is doing horribly as we all know, and pinching pennies in the grocery stores is how many people are getting by.

  10. Tropicana Listens to its Customers - WOW! | Loud Amplifier Marketing on January 23rd, 2009:

    [...] – click here to read my original rant on the subject of Tropicana’s new bland packaging that started it all…..and comments [...]

  11. alejandro on January 23rd, 2009:

    I honestly think they didn’t test this new packaging before launching it, it seems it was a “rush design” asked from PepsiCo ho probably didn’t even have the time.

    http://aletorro.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/the-oj-wasnt-as-pretty-tropicana-will-change-back-its-packaging/

  12. David Oberholtzer on January 23rd, 2009:

    Thanks for the link to your post. Very well stated. Keep up the good work.

  13. Daniel Rachman on January 23rd, 2009:

    Am I the only one who thinks that Pure Premium in its new packaging is a different, worse tasting orange juice than it used to be??
    My initial reaction when tasting the new OJ was WTF, this tastes terrible. Tropicana must have changed the packaging to not associate this new taste with its old one. Like they got a bad batch of oranges or something. I’m switching to Simply Orange Juice until they bring back my Grovestand high Pulp Awesomeness that i’ve lived on half my life

  14. Franki on January 23rd, 2009:

    Along with the generic new label. Tropicana also wasted a ton of money on the new “SNAP” bottle. With the design of this new “SNAP” cap and bottle. Two entire production lines had to be removed and demolished, then new ones installed. P6 in the past ran…98%, P5 was also in the high 80′s to 90′s. Some marketing guru’s idea to save money and impress by design, has cost Tropicana a ton of money for nothing……she should be fired and the idiots that supported her should go also. Do some market research before implementing and spending so much money on new desings and equipment from around the world that doesn’t even function properly. The new “SNAP” lid constantly leaks, the “SNAP” Program Manager walked away from both jobs within weeks of the lines being completely installed and somewhat running. He didn’t even wait for them to get up to full production….he also let all of the contractors go, then he got a raise and a promotion. One advisor was brought in to get the line up to speed in TE, he just lied about the TE rate….screwed over the other advisors and department manager to make himself look good as always, he got a raise and is now a department manager. Wal-Mart….Tropicana’s biggest customer has pulled the “SNAP” product. P6 on its best day now runs around 60-70% TE. Talk about waste and loss. What is Tropicana thinking? You have too many little “good old boys” only worried about their own slef interests and paychecks and not truly concerned about the direction of the business…John Botting, Tully Dawson, Mike Schmidt, Cliff McDermett, and others. There is an unbelieveable amount of “backstabbing” and people getting “thrown under the bus” so others can move ahead for their own interest. If you are not in the “click” and a drinking buddy then you are out, and if you are a woman at Tropicana in any role as an Advisor working with the aforementioned personel…forget it, you are forced out or harassed until you leave. Anthony Rossi, the founder of Tropicana would/is rolling in his grave. PepsiCo moved all of the leadership to Chicago? Chicago…..Tropicana in rooted in Florida…makes a lot of sense. The company is going down the drain and the “good old boys are running it in the ground” to set up for their own retirement. You really do not want to know what goes in the juice, behind the scenes. Most of the employees will not drink it anymore…just for your information.

  15. Eric on January 23rd, 2009:

    Honestly, I agree on one count and disagree on another. Whereas on the bottle it does actually look generic and cheap, it actually looks better on the carton.

    It looks more modern and clean from a design standpoint because of the smooth straight lines. And to be honest a little more classy than a picture of an orange with a straw sticking out of it (Im not bashing it in any way, just saying).

  16. Matt on January 23rd, 2009:

    I just discovered what Tropicana does to their orange juice. I was a big a fan of it until today. They strip out the flavors then add in artificial flavoring in order make it taste like oranges. THAT IS SACRILIDGE.

    From the book “Squeezed” about Tropicana –
    “Flavor packs are fabricated from the chemicals that make up orange essence and oil. Flavor and fragrance houses, the same ones that make high end perfumes, break down orange essence and oils into their constituent chemicals and then reassemble the individual chemicals in configurations that resemble nothing found in nature. Ethyl butyrate is one of the chemicals found in high concentrations in the flavor packs added to orange juice sold in North American markets, because flavor engineers have discovered that it imparts a fragrance that Americans like, and associate with a freshly squeezed orange”

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