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

December 20, 2008

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.