Ocean Spray Rides Diet Wave

NEW YORK As juice sales remain sluggish, Ocean Spray is trying to win back carbohydrate-phobic consumers with its first diet drink.

Diet Ocean Spray, hitting stores in March, contains 10-calories per serving, and is sweetened with Splenda. A television and print campaign, via Arnold in Boston, will target consumers who tend to cut back on juices to once a day to keep their carb counts low. Sampling and FSIs support the primary media.

“Now they can maintain their diets throughout the day but still reap the health benefits of cranberry,” like its anti-oxidant properties, said Ken Romanzi, COO of Ocean Spray.

The effort comes as sales of cranberry juice for the year ending Dec. 31 were flat at $788 million, per ACNielsen. Ocean Spray commands about 65 percent of the segment.

The Diet Ocean Spray rollout comes after a $40 million campaign, launched in October, that ditched the brand’s decade-old “Ride the wave” tagline for “Straight from the bog” and featured testimonials from cranberry farmers.

Romanzi said that effort was inspired by initiatives from agricultural collectives like the National Cattlemen’s Association’s “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” and Dairy Management’s “Ahh, the power of cheese” campaigns.

“We decided to get back to our farmer heritage and get more aggressive communicating what we have always stood for,” he said. Print ads in women’s titles like O: The Oprah Magazine and Better Homes and Gardens will also tout the juice’s nutritional properties and hail it as a “wonder berry.”

The activity comes after Ocean Spray’s principal rival, Northland Cranberries, last year sold its juice business to natural and organic juice maker Apple & Eve of Port Washington, N.Y.