Monday, February 23, 2009

I was wondering about how some marketing departments go about decisioning.

Historians some decades from now will argue about what to call the era we are now tumbling through. We've had "The Gilded Age," "The Gay 90s," "The Roaring Twenties" and so forth. I'm for calling this "The Era of Bad Judgment." Or "The Group-Think Depression." Or "The Hubris Generation."

I just came upon this in The New York Times. Grant me a little spleen and then I will talk a bit about advertising. "Though seven major financial firms lost more than $100 billion since 2007, they have paid their top executives $464 million in performance pay since 1995."

OK, let's switch gears to the marketing geniuses behind the re-branding of Tropicana. I won't go into a peroration about the oft' derided Peter Arnell whose agency created the new campaign for Tropicana and designed its new packaging. Arnell does a dang good job deriding himself. Told Tropicana was going back to its old packaging, Arnell said "“Tropicana is doing exactly what they should be doing...I’m incredibly surprised by the reaction," [but] "I’m glad Tropicana is getting this kind of attention." Read the whole album of asininity here:

What amazes and amuses me about the stupidity of Arnell's work is the "decisioning" that must have taken place during the approval process. Let's take a moment and consider the tagline for the brand. "It's a natural." I can hardly for the life of me think of a more obvious or banal tag for a "natural" brand.

A Google search of the phrase in quotations yields 392,000 hits. The line is used by the Biological Weed Control Committee of the Weed Science Society of America (the first hit), by a Glendale, CA provider of natural gas for cars (hit two) and, hit three, Rev. John Carmichael of the Church of Scientology on the efficacy of drug-free child-birth.

That alone, you'd think, would kill a stupid, meaningless, over-used, un-original tagline. But decisioning kept it alive.


theschwartex said...

I think it also could be called the "The Era of I'm Not Taking Responsibility."

Because you know no body at Tropicana or Arnell will take responsibility for this incredible screw-up especially those at the top of the food chain. Arnell claims to "help brands capture and realize differentiation by exploiting emotional dimension" yet neglected to understand the emotional attachment customers felt to the then current Tropicana packaging? And even worse created a look which could at best be only described as a bad generic store brand look.

And what does one make of Mr. Campbell's statement, “We underestimated the deep emotional bond” they had with the original packaging." Hm, certainly would seem that this is something one should have known before even beginning to consider redesigning your packaging.

When asked how much it would cost to scrap the new packaging and bring back the previous design, he said the amount “isn’t significant.” My guess that's code for "we'll just fire a couple of people to recoup the costs."

Tore Claesson said...

Phew, for a moment I thought I had gone totally insane and lost all my bearings. I simply couldn't grasp why the new Tropicana packaging design, looking like a cheaper generic store-brand at best, would be the right thing to do. I felt lost. I felt like I no longer understood anything about what might work. I wondered what type of research could have convinced them of such a radical change into nothingness. I wondered if they had not taken emotions into consideration.
Not that the old Tropicana design is a master piece of design, but it felt appetizing and right and homely and trustworthy. My kids and my wife changed from Tropicana to that other brand Florida something that has a similar to the old Tropicana feel-good old fashioned packaging. I suspect they weren't the only ones to switch. By the way, I have myself designed a few juice packs in my day, in my old homeland of Sweden. They were on the shelfs, basically unchanged, for many years after I left. I know a thing or two about emotional bonds.