Tropicana Takes Nutrition to Heart
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Holmes Report

Tropicana Takes Nutrition to Heart

With an aging population and an increasing obsession with fitness, consumers now look to see what else a product can do for them. So when you have a product that is not only great tasting, but also naturally nutritious, why not capitalize on its natural

Paul Holmes

Health sells. Before the age of “functional foods,” food processors could market products on the basis of good taste alone.  But with an aging population and an increasing obsession with fitness, consumers now look to see what else a product can do for them.  So when you have a product that is not only great tasting, but also naturally nutritious, why not capitalize on its natural health benefits?  

That’s exactly what Tropicana Products planned to do when it petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to carry a health claim on its Pure Premium orange juice touting the benefits of the mineral, potassium.  Potassium, which is inherent to all orange juice, has been shown in clinical trials to reduce the risk of both high blood pressure (HBP) and stroke.  Tropicana spent 18 months researching and writing the petition and working with the FDA on the claim’s language. But, once the petition was accepted, any food that qualified for the claim could use it in its marketing efforts. For Tropicana, that not only meant keeping other orange juice producers at bay, but banana suppliers as well.  

Ketchum worked with FCB (advertising), Frankel (brand marketing), J. Brown (retail promotions) and Landor (packaging) to create an integrated marketing campaign that positioned Tropicana Pure Premium (TPP) as the ideal source of potassium, gave Tropicana a jumpstart on its competitors and increased sales. And the program did just that.

Media Audit – Ketchum audited the media to assess the news coverage General Mills (GM) received when it successfully petitioned the FDA to carry a claim on the health benefits of whole grains.  Ketchum used the audit to determine how much of that coverage was branded and to see how GM’s competitors responded.  Audits of the media coverage for claims announced in 2000 for soy and plant stanols were also useful.  The findings helped Ketchum shape its media strategy. 

Competitive Landscape – Ketchum reviewed data from Information Resources Inc. (IRI) to determine how previous health claims affected sales for the food companies that initiated the claims. This information helped Ketchum build a financial angle to the story and establish Tropicana’s goal to increase sales by 25% in Dec. 2000.

Scientific Literature Review – Ketchum reviewed the scientific literature linking potassium to a reduced risk of HBP and stroke, as well as the government report on which Tropicana based its petition. This review helped Ketchum draft the program’s key messages and ensured the accuracy of press materials.  Scientific research was also reviewed to identify the ethnic groups at greatest risk for these conditions. As a result, Ketchum developed a complementary media plan to target African Americans and Hispanics.

Omnibus Survey – Did consumers know about the link between potassium and HBP? Would they be able to identify orange juice as a good source of the mineral? That was unclear. An omnibus survey, fielded by Ketchum, revealed that more than 95% of adults are unaware of the mineral’s role in controlling blood pressure or stroke and 94% do not know that orange juice is a good source of potassium.  These alarming statistics informed the tone of program materials. Both the media and professional materials emphasized the importance of educating the public about the role of potassium – and Tropicana orange juice – in cardiovascular health.


Objectives:   The integrated program set out to 1) strengthen TPP’s stature as the leader in the o.j. category; 2) increase awareness of the link between HBP/stroke and potassium and of orange juice as an ideal source; and 3) increase sales by at least 25% percent in Dec. 2000 and by 10% for Q4 2000 over the same periods in 1999. 

Audiences:  1) Health-conscious consumers, aged 25+; 2) Consumers at increased risk of HBP and/or stroke (e.g., blacks and Hispanics); 3) Health professionals (cardiologists, family doctors and dietitians); and 4) food retailers.

Strategies: 1) Time announcement to catch the competition off-guard and maximize Tropicana’s opportunity to “own” the claim; 2) Create multiple news angles to reach a variety of influencers; and 3) Integrate public relations, advertising and retail marketing efforts.

Spokesperson Audit: It was critical that consumers understand that Tropicana’s health claim was grounded in medical science, so Ketchum sought a spokesperson that would be perceived as a credible source and not merely a “gun for hire.” Lawrence Appel, MD, of Johns Hopkins University was selected because of his work on hypertension studies, as well as his strong belief in the role of potassium in HBP control.  Other spokespeople included a Hispanic cardiologist, an African American dietitian, and a cardiologist with Yale’s School of Medicine.

Challenges: 1) The FDA placed an embargo on the announcement until October 30th, the expiration date for its 120-day review period of Tropicana’s petition. That meant that the announcement would be made just as television’s sweeps period was beginning and just when election coverage was starting to escalate. This challenge was addressed by focusing on media that were likely to get the story out quickly and as far ahead of sweeps and the election as possible: i.e., wire services, network newsfeeds and agenda-setting newspapers; 2) Claim could be quickly co-opted by Tropicana competitors and producers of other foods qualifying for the claims. Getting the news out as far ahead of Tropicana’s competitors as possible was the key to overcoming this challenge; 3) Recent approval of health claims for other foods made Tropicana’s health claim less novel. This challenge meant focusing on the unique aspects of the claim and on the lack of knowledge among consumers about potassium and its health benefits; 4) Because of the FDA’s strict language requirements, all of the communications materials needed to reflect the same key messages, in the same language and in the same tone of voice. Ketchum worked closely with Tropicana to develop those messages and spearheaded their integration into every piece of the marketing mix. 

Budget:  Ketchum’s public relations efforts had a total budget of $490,000 ($277,000 in time; $213,000 in OOP); just 4% of Tropicana’s overall $12 million integrated marketing budget.


Strategy One: Time announcement to catch the competition off-guard and maximize Tropicana's opportunity to "own" the claimL Ketchum devised a media plan that prioritized key media targets to receive the news on an embargoed and/or exclusive basis. These media targets included The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, major wire services, national morning shows, CNN and network newsfeeds. This pre-pitching ensured that the news would hit the media at 5 p.m. on October 30 when the FDA was scheduled to lift its own embargo on the announcement.  The timing also gave Tropicana at least one day before its competitors could capitalize on the news. 

Strategy Two: Create multiple news angles to reach a variety of influencers 

Business/Financial Community: Ketchum focused on how the claim would help Tropicana maintain its leadership role in the beverage industry and shed light on the company’s commitment to marketing nutritional products. Ketchum also arranged for Tropicana’s CEO to ring the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange, where corporate parent PepsiCo is traded, and held a sampling event outside for traders and other passersby.  The event garnered attention from analysts, financial wires and financial television shows.

Health & Science Community:  Press material focused on the clinical research behind the claim, the prevalence of HBP in the U.S. and the low intake levels of potassium among consumers. Additional materials were sent to family physicians, cardiologists, dietitians and other professionals likely to pass news of the claim on to their patients.

Minority Outreach:  A press release citing the prevalence of hypertension and stroke among African Americans was distributed to black-owned newspapers while African American dietitian Barbara Dixon recorded an audio news release that was distributed to urban format radio stations across the country.  For the Hispanic community, all of the press materials were translated into Spanish and a Hispanic cardiolologist served as the spokesperson. 

Program Extension: Ketchum squeezed additional media interest by using Georgia Kostas, a dietitian with the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, to discuss food sources of potassium in a November audio news release.  And, in mid-December, Dr. Joanne Foody of Yale participated in a satellite media tour discussing how potassium-rich foods like orange juice could help protect people from the rise in cardiovascular incidents that occurs during the holidays.

Strategy Three: Integrate public relations, advertising and retail marketing efforts 

New Logo:  Landor created a new version of Tropicana’s famous Straw in Orange icon to be used on TPP’s new packaging and to unite the various marketing efforts promoting the health claim.  The new logo was used in PR materials and event signage and in full-page print ads and point-of-sale materials created by Frankel.

Advertising Campaign: Full-page print ads touting the claim appeared in USA Today on Nov. 1, the day after the announcement, and in The New York Times on Nov. 5.  and were followed by a series of holiday-themed ads touting the heart health benefits of o.j. , all of which made reference to Ketchum’s omnibus survey.  A television commercial created by FCB featured an over-80 softball team and the song, “You Gotta Have Heart.” 

Retail:  Again the messages and research Ketchum developed were used for a packet of information materials sent to Tropicana’s sales team and to retail brokers in key markets. Retailers were reached directly with print ads appearing in 14 retail trade publications.


Objective 1: Strengthen Tropicana Pure Premium’s stature as the leader in the orange juice category: Although the program to date has garnered 895 million media impressions (including pending coverage in long-lead publications), what was most important was how the media told the story. A content analysis of available coverage established that Tropicana’s name was mentioned in every story that covered the claim and in 62% of all headlines. Eighty percent of the coverage used the words, “Tropicana health claim,” unmistakably positioning Tropicana as the leader in this initiative. Minute Maid, Tropicana’s biggest competitor, was mentioned in only half of those stories and was never mentioned in headlines. As put it, “With Tropicana marketing the ‘heart healthy’ benefits of orange juice, that brand may be the leader of the functional bandwagon.”

Objective 2:  Increase awareness of the link between HBP/stroke and potassium and of orange juice as an ideal source: The content analysis demonstrated that the key messages appeared in the media coverage: 67% of the stories contained the message “potassium is clinically proven to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke” and nearly 25% of the coverage contained the message "just one glass of orange juice per day provides enough potassium to prevent the risk of high blood pressure and stroke."
Objective 3: Increase sales by at least 25% percent in Dec. 2000 and by 10% for Q4 2000 over the same periods in 1999Sales for the last four weeks of December 2000 increased by 54.5% over the same period in 1999.  A 22% sales uptick for Q4 2000 was also greater than forecasted. The client attributed both increases to the integrated marketing program surrounding the announcement.  To sustain that momentum, Tropicana has a continuity program in place that includes public relations, additional new packaging, print ads in long lead publications and additional professional outreach efforts.

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