Tropicana: Side by Side (old news with a new “twist”)

Back in October, PepsiCo shook up the (design) world with its immense overhaul of the Pepsi brand. The blogs had a lot to say, and as you can imagine, much of it was not positive. Firstly, I must note that I do not drink Pepsi. Not because I have some aversion to soda, but because my blog is actually sponsored by the color red, which any self-respecting designer should know was invented and owned exclusively by the Coca-Cola company. Thus, my ties to PepsiCo’s competition are sweet, dark brown, and deep. Naturally, I paid very little attention to the new Pepsi logo and packaging redesign, citing it as yet another reason to not drink Pepsi. I had no relationship with the brand, so I didn’t really care.

Well, like any huge corporation PepsiCo owns quite a few other brands, and the corporate nip/tuck was rippling its way through PepsiCo’s other brands and onto my breakfast table. Tropicana, Pepsi’s squarer more nutritious cousin and my go-to brand for ‘Pure Premium’ OJ, had also been given a 2.0ver. You can read all about it here. This was news I cared about! I can’t say I loved the old Tropicana carton but over the years it and I had bonded over many western omelets. I had come to know, love, and trust the little straw sticking out of the orange. It signaled the dawn and its infinite possibilities. I was sad to see it go.

At the same time, I embraced the new Tropicana cartons. Not because they feature a near erotic close up of a just poured glass of orange juice, or because they unabashedly lower case and sans serif the ‘orange’ in my OJ, but simply because they’re new, and with every new brand overhaul comes the awkward rollout phase, when the old packaging gets to share shelf space with the new packaging. This period offers a unique opportunity to do the most rudimentary of experiments: the shelf-off. Pictured above is a shelf-off in progress. While the cartons on the right aren’t, in fact, orange juice, they still have the old design and if you look closely you can even see the little straw sticking out of the orange (how my heart longs for it). Looking at the two side by side, I’d have to say I’m drawn more to the new cartons. If I were to pin it down to any one thing, it would be the fact that the photo made me want orange juice more than the strawrange. At the same time, the design of the older cartons makes me think this orange juice is probably going to taste better. I can’t really pinpoint why that is, but I’d venture to say it has something to do with the sans serifs and the kinds of brands I relate them to.

At any rate, I can’t decide if there’s a clear winner here, or if it even matters. What I do find lamentable, however, is the omission of ‘Pure Premium’ on the new cartons. It deeply saddens me that my orange juice is now only ‘pure and natural.’ I guess I’ll have to start looking elsewhere for the premium stuff.

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10 Responses to Tropicana: Side by Side (old news with a new “twist”)

  1. Nina says:

    wow! i didn’t even know they changed their look! my grocery store still has the old ones. maybe i’ll react differently once i see the new cartons in person but judging from the above picture, i think i still like the old one better 😦

  2. tishon says:

    that seems to be the reaction most folks have.

  3. qui says:

    strawrange… awesome. but, being that i hate change, i’d have to say i like the old one too.

  4. Daniel says:

    Good stuff!
    I think you’re right, the sans-serif fonts give an artificial vibe to the cartons on the left, something like an engineered drink from the 70’s maybe…
    Keep on writing

  5. Vince says:

    I like the old branding better than the new one. The new one I feel looks too busy and doesn’t give the comfort of the old branding. Oh well…

  6. ben says:

    yes! I was totally weirded out when I went to get my morning oj, only to find that my bodega was out of my regular Tropicana and had replaced it with this other brand of oj in a strange box that was called… Tropicana. I dont really have a preference either way, its just odd. The bodega guy told me that the tropicana rep told him that its also “more pure” now (read “more expensive”). Excellent blog btw, thanks.

  7. tishon says:

    Ben:
    hmm…more pure you say? I’ll have to look into this. It tastes the same to me. Thanks for the props on the blog. And thank you for reading.

  8. […] The big story today is PepsiCo’s ‘New Coke’, as The NY Times is calling it. Only months after releasing their much talked (and blogged and blogged and blogged) about Tropicana carton redesign, they’ve decided to switch back to the Strawrange, citing a strong outcry from their ‘most loyal customers.’ Cool. Looks like we’re going to have the privilege of experiencing yet another shelf-off. […]

  9. guru says:

    hey everyone!! check it out
    Tropicana is doing a Ctrl-Z , going back to the old packaging… read on..

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/business/media/23adcol.html?_r=1

  10. mrmarkrobson says:

    hey tishon…

    ive been thinking about this pkg too…
    i got a kick out of the new cap and the rotation of the logo, so it looks correct when poured by right handed people…

    but the main thing i lamented personally is i went to the supermarket, and had to spend extra time finding the specific juice i wanted…less obvious in the fridge pick above, the small color bar at the top to identify the juice is hidden by the overhanging shelf, and immediately made me long for the previous package.

    from a simple functional perspective, this really failed for me.

    on another note, its debatable, but the photo feels dull and lacks vibrancy, maybe its stock photography?
    anyone can put up a photo of juice, but the straw in the fruit is classic and speaks volumes without language as opposed to expressing it with type. on an international level, anyone can understand the original visual.

    i continued to buy this OJ, but week after week, the package started to feel more and more generic, even the novelty of the new cap on top started to wear off…

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