by Marion Nestle
Feb 25 2009

The news in food marketing: love of Tropicana packaging?

When it comes to food marketing, I know I live on another planet but really, doesn’t the fuss over the packaging of Tropicana go too far?  According to the report in the New York Times, consumers are so upset over Pepsi’s new Tropicana carton design that they have forced Pepsi to withdraw it.  Pepsi, it seems, underestimated the deep emotional bond its customers had with the original packaging.  Deep emotional bond?  With orange juice packaging?  Readers: I need some help with this one.


As if that weren’t enough, CSPI’s Margo Wootan sends me the latest newsletter from the Council of Better Business Bureaus giving details of voluntary efforts by food companies to improve the nutritional quality of products marketed to kids.   Do these seem like significant improvements?

Finally, the new USDA Secretary has just announced a partnership with Disney and the Ad Council to promote the MyPyramid for kids.  Isn’t this nice of Disney?

  • I’m with you; I don’t understand it either. Yes, the new packaging is blander, but why is this Such a Big Deal?!

  • I hadn’t noticed, since I don’t purchase this prepackaged juice anyway. I don’t want any product marketed by Pepsi. What Pepsi really ought to spend their money on is making the product worthy of human consumption, and not throwing their money away on packaging changes.

  • I’m a marketing professional, and I can tell you that this happens all the time. My colleagues think it’s brand loyalty. I call it confusion. My experience is that changing packaging confuses people. So do brand extensions. Really, do we need sixteen different types of orange juice? And new snazzy packaging? No. Companies do this all the time and are always ‘amazed’ when people are upset that they change things. I think people just can’t find the products anymore because they changed the carton.

  • I think people just can’t find the products anymore because they changed the carton.

    That’s pretty much true, at least for me. I wasn’t upset, just confused for a moment. I have no emotional attachment to the old Tropicana packaging, but the first time I saw the new cartons I thought they were generic orange juice, so plain was the look. It took me a few seconds, after seeing that the shelves were stacked full of the same cartons (whereas generics are typically well-hidden), to realize that this must be Tropicana’s new label.

  • BTW, this is supposedly the branding company’s internal memo about Pepsi’s new logo. It’s basically impenetrable gobbledygook, BS of the highest order. If it’s parody, it’s well-done. If it’s real, then that makes me sad.

  • Also, i think when people kind of grow up with a brand they have an attachment to it. I work in advertising and sometimes it’s the throwbacks to the old fashioned branding that people have heart for. Look at the Volkswagen bug. New branding can make consumers uncomfortable about the product. It’s amazing how deep in our psyche marketing and advertising goes.

  • Jenn

    As long as I look at the ingredients and it’s actually JUICE, I don’t really care what receptacle it comes in.

  • You know, Pinocchio’s not necessarily a bad mascot for the government 🙂

    Here are my thoughts on this (with a quote from Michele Simon… I knew she’d be absolutely steaming over this!):

  • Eliza

    So, if I’m reading this newsletter correctly, Cap’n Crunch is considered a healthy food?

  • Eliza

    Reading the newsletter and the Pepsico pledge linked to it, this looks like deliberate deception to me. Pepsi has pledged to only advertise healthy foods in certain categories to kids, and then distort the definition of healthy beyond recognition. Pure PR, and totally meaningless. Also, the “snacks” category is being excluded from the 2009 pledge. This industry is so evil.

  • WOW, these companies have reduced the upper sodium limit of their products to just 1/3 to 1/2 of the UL for kids? Awww, they shouldn’t have!

  • Really, how much do kids respond to MARKETING? I never once thought, “Oh, I REALLY like that candy bar commercial…I’m going to buy one of those!”

    So, a concession about pulling back on what they are marketing to children is like saying they will put their pants on both legs simultaneously instead of one leg, then the other. It’s meaningless because it doesn’t change the lack of food value in the product, and it doesn’t change the bottom line.

  • The problem with the new packaging was it made it too hard to tell one type of juice from another. Instead of a big colored band running down the top of the carton they just have a small stripe across the top. I ended up throwing out half a carton of high pulp with calcium OJ because I bought it by mistake and everyone in my house hates it.

  • Yes to what Brigid said. I hate the new packagaing because it makes it very difficult to tell which juice is which. This is a thin colored stripe with small text “hidden” at the top. In the juice isle it makes it really hard to find what you need.