Some of my favorite boondoggles over the years have involved the vast sums stupid companies have spent to fix what ain't broke. Our latest example is Tropicana, headquartered in Bradenton, Florida. In a classic act of desperation, the ailing orange juice producer decided to scrap its familiar, easy to spot, super-friendly logo and packaging (the orange with a straw stuck into it) for a new ad campaign that trades in everything recognizable about the brand for some tortuous association between "squeezing" orange juice and "squeezing" your spouse, kid, or mistress.
That particular tortuous association cost the company 35 million, paid in large part to an ad agency called the Arnell Group in New York.
In another brilliant move, they turned the name of the juice sideways, so customers hoping to recognize their favorite OJ should best be inching along the supermarket aisles horizontally.
In advertising parlance this is called "rebranding." In my personal parlance it's called "distracting." The distraction goes like this: Development and marketing people secretly harbor the sinking feeling that they don't really have anything of importance to contribute. They worry that their bosses might catch on. Conundrum, right? To alleviate the secret sinking feeling they create the Illusion of Relevance, a trick whereby dumb rebranding campaigns are invented to redesign perfectly good logos so they look like doo-doo. If you doubt it, listen to what Neil Campbell, president of Tropicana North America, was blabbering about his expensive new rebranding project, and ask yourself if this drivel didn't come straight from the mouths and pens of the "creative" people at Arnell:
The whole idea of "squeeze" Mr. Campbell said, is to play up the "functional benefit" of orange juice in providing fruit for people's daily diets and "the emotional connection people have with Tropicana."
Let's all take a moment to throw up a little into our morning glass of juice.
Postscript? After complaints from customers, Tropicana has decided to scrap the new campaign and go back to the original juice box.