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BONITA SPRINGS, FL — In January, the first television advertisements for Florida citrus from new agency BBDO-Atlanta began to air across the country during the National Football League playoffs. The ads are humorous and have proved to be popular with viewers.

The question was, would they sell more juice?

The answer, apparently, is yes.

 

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Katja Bressette, director of strategic initiatives at Olson Zaltman Associates in Boston, a consultancy that conducted interviews with consumer focus groups, shared the findings June 15 with the Florida Citrus Commission at the annual meeting of Florida Citrus Mutual. (Photo by Chip Carter)
Michael Albanese, account group director at the Atlanta branch of international market research firm Millward Brown Inc., gave the Florida Citrus Commission numbers it was hoping to see at its annual meeting June 15 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort, here.

 

Millward Brown has been tracking viewership and the impact of the new ads for the last six months. Of television viewers surveyed, 47 percent said they “had seen something about Florida orange juice on TV whether they could specifically recall the ad or not,” Mr. Albanese said.

Once focus groups were shown the ads — featuring moms, dads and kids in humorous spots with the theme “Take on the day with Florida orange juice” — recall increased again.

In the first quarter of 2011, viewer awareness of the specific ads was 35 percent. Through the second quarter, that awareness jumped to 60 percent as the ads continued to run on outlets like Lifetime and ESPN.

With an ever-shrinking marketing budget (the commission sliced another $900,000 from its marketing campaign for 2011-12 to offset money lost to a gubernatorial veto of a citrus research initiative), BBDO and its associates have had to do more with less. Rather than hire costly celebrity spokespeople or buy expensive network ad spots, the strategy has been to focus on cable outlets and target a demographic that is not particularly committed to drinking orange juice.

“With less spend, we’re getting the same amount of awareness in the market, which speaks to the fact that the advertising is resonating,” Mr. Albanese said. “Numbers demonstrate the advertising is having a marketing effect. The campaign is gaining momentum, more people are seeing the advertising. The other thing that’s nice to see is people are saying they enjoyed it, that it’s entertaining, that they’ve talked about it with their friends, [which is] something we haven t seen in the last couple of years. Those who have seen the advertising have better perceptions of oranges overall.”

Leigh Killeen, deputy executive director of marketing and public relations for the Florida Department of Citrus, said, “We’ve made a lot of progress, but we don’t want to stand still. We need to understand more about how we make OJ relevant to our consumer. We just did some really groundbreaking research — qualitative research we did with consumers in a couple of cities. We sat and talked with them to try to understand their emotions.”

Jeff Upshaw of BBDO told the commission that he believes the campaign gives Florida citrus a new benchmark on which to capitalize after years of diminishing returns on OJ advertising.

BBDO’s market research showed that the “it’s just juice” demographic, singles and couples in their 30s who view orange juice as just another morning beverage, represents “the most room for growth.” The question now is, “How do we get to their underlying motivations?”

Focus groups in Boston and Atlanta sat for two-hour interviews about orange juice. “It was amazing,” Ms. Killeen said. “You wouldn’t think people could talk that long about orange juice, but we couldn’t shut some of them up. We have a lot we can build on, a lot we can do. We’ll start to incorporate this learning into our public relations, our retail. We know from the tracking study and this research we’re in a good place with ‘Take on the day.’ That transformation is taking place people are getting it.”

The next step is to present a couple of new concepts for the campaign that might reposition orange juice consumption outside the home and its typical breakfast slot. The commission will hear the pitch for that potential new ad in September. If all goes well, the new spot will be approved in December and the new ad will launch in January. Come March, the entire campaign will get a few new tweaks and continue.

The campaign “still has strong legs,” Ms. Killeen said. “We know we’re in a good place with this, and it won’t wear out. We would like to produce one more ad that would refresh the idea of ‘take on the day’ and go into the rotation with the current ads.”