Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Orange Juice Indicator: Change May Be Uphill Battle For Obama

President Obama’s election was, among many things, a big resounding vote for change. But is change really what the American people want or are they going to be too afraid to embrace it when it arrives?

One major indicator may be Tropicana’s decision to ditch its revamped orange juice carton packaging after only a few weeks and go back to the old comfortable look consumers know. If people rise up over new packaging, how are they ever going to accept new policies, new standards, new ways of thinking?

We think Tropicana overreacted to consumer outcry and should have let people sit with the new look. After all, change doesn’t always feel immediately good. Sometimes it can leave us uncomfortable. But over time, what seems off can become beloved.

We liked the bold new packaging created by the Arnell Group. It focused on the delicious juice within in place of the venerable orange-with-a-straw image that has represented the brand for so long. Here is a link to to Advertising Age's interview with Peter Arnell on the decision by Tropicana to go back to the old packaging.

But whether you agree or not in this instance, we think it is really a sign that while people talk about wanting change, they are not always willing to take the deep breath and live with the sometimes disquieting transition that may accompany it.

What do you think?


Russ said...

I have to say, when you really look at the cartons side by side, the old packaging does look OLD and not as inviting (and I am a fan of the old logo).

They really caved in to a few loud-mouths. I'm sure the average consumer never even noticed.

Tropicana really blundered. Let's hope Obama doesn't.

projectman said...

Are you kidding? Does anyone really care what canned juice packaging looks like? Go squeeze a real orange and enjoy nature and not processed foods that can sit for months on a shelf. I think the issue is less that we can't embrace change and more that we are turning away from the important issues that are changing whether we like it or not.

Anonymous said...

The fact that America could finally put an Afro-American in the White House is much more telling of the people's will and desire to embrace change, than a few vocal loyalists whining for their old orange juice package. Apparently Pepsico just can't walk the walk. But to generalize beyond this specific story is to err badly. It hardly applies that "as goes Pepsico, so goes America." To add a fine point, I don't think it's the people who rose up against the new package, it's the the Pepsico and Arnell who displayed an on again, off again capriciousness. This lies at the heart of what consumers detest, and why marketers are too often seen as self-interested hucksters - insincerity and lack of transparency of the big marketing machine - bad reflection on Arnell Group and on Pepsico.

In the end it yields a lack of trust from consumers. And it gives all of us in marketing a bad name.

Do you honestly see this silly Tropicana packaging snafu as a barometer of America's desire to embrace and enact change? Seriously? I do not.

Janet said...

Mr. Arnell’s explanation resonated of new age modernism interactive art. Artistic and with flair, symbolism and connection to personal feelings, good art doesn’t always translate to the dairy section at the local market. The new design hid the mental conditioning to the product that shoppers instinctively recognize. Not necessarily the orange and straw design as much as the bold headline on the Tropicana packaging. The total move left the shopper without connection to the product. When I saw the new design, at my local market, I thought Tropicana was hit with a recall and a different brand had replaced the Tropicana space.

Adrian said...


We humans resist change in most cases. even if it is good for us...and I agree that Trop over reacted...I like the new packaging...as for America being ready for change...we shall see. We voted for Obama, now let's see how we react to the change in government that is coming.

Thanks for your blog...AR

Joe said...

Hi Lois:

I think you are absolutely on the right line of thinking when it comes to people and their response to change. I was just discussing this yesterday with some people. I thought that the certain politicians and citizens in this country are not backing this new President up. I feel very confident about Mr. Obama, however we need a cohesive effort to support him from the people of America. As far as the orange juice, I am a fan of the old...but as they say..."out with the old, in with the new"..but a good analogy!

Mel said...

I'm all for change as long as it's a change for the better... I've been a fan of Tropicana juices for a long time and when I was in Florida in December and March I was wondering why I "couldn't find" their orange juice any more. In fact I resorted to buying "Florida's Best" until I discovered Topicana had changed their packaging. The packaging is so "bland" it looked more like a "no name" brand, they should have at least written their name in a way it would stand out!

Sara Fitzpatrick Comito said...

Funny, just the other day I was admiring the new packaging as it sat on my kitchen table. The screw-off cap actually was in the shape of an orange, which seemed a whimsical touch.
People do seem to enjoy the status quo when it comes to certain things. When all else seems up in the air, a small thing like their OJ packaging can send them for a loop.
May I suggest yoga or comedy? Anything to help people relax enough so they don't flip out over their juice containers.
The hub-bub, however, probably does nothing to hurt Tropicana's top of mind recognition!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lois...
Now that I am running a packaging company, I can say that the Marketing teams at companies drive to modernize their packaging look, but then someone in upper management gets cold feet and says "if it ain't broke don't fix it". The shame of it is that this type of "stick with the old" mentality fosters complacency and does not stimulate growth. Those accouts that we deal with that are open to a new look (provided they research to make sure the new look will yield the desired results) are the ones that are growing in this economic disaster. I believe Tropicana made a huge mistake... their new design is fresh, modern and bold.
Matt M.

Michael E said...

According to Peter Arnell the cap signifies the product’s purity. Wouldn’t it be nice if some genius figured out a way to make the orange cap recyclable? Then it might actually symbolize purity. I don’t underestimate people’s attachment to their brands but I think the new design failed because it falls terribly flat. That glass of juice is neither emblematic, modern or all that appealing. The orange with a straw might be goofy but it’s striking.

As for change, people want to change the things that have been ruining their lives -- venal financiers, corrupt politicians, unjustified war. Yet in tough times, we like the familiar, comfortable things that make us happy. We’re a bit more nuanced about change today than in the 60’s.

That said, a smart marketer might encourage people to drink a new kind of juice. We’ve been drinking orange juice for breakfast every morning and might that be part of the problem? (Maybe someone should ask Anita Bryant...)

polydean said...

The main problem with the new packaging was that it looked like a generic brand, not tropicana. I kept skipping over it because it was the exact same lame design aesthetic that store brands use, in the same pathetic font.

Once I "got" that it was tropicana, I thought it was an interesting move, but still... The sales go down from a packaging change, uh, you go BACK TO THE OLD PACKAGE. The new one simply wasn't communicating something effectively.