Richards: Rise and Shine With Florida Citrus

DALLAS In Florida, the orange is a political football.

Against the backdrop of a lawsuit filed by farmers who oppose funding generic orange-juice advertising and an international battle over tariffs on imports, The Richards Group has created a national image campaign and a local political effort for Florida’s Department of Citrus.

The independent Dallas agency launched the first spot in a $20 million TV campaign during last night’s Emmy Awards telecast on Fox. The campaign positions orange juice as a way to help moms get their families moving in the morning.

The tag remains, “The best start under the sun.” Spots due later this year continue to target mothers, and show moms using a butt-kicking robot and rowdy cheerleaders to rouse their sleepy families. Orange juice is pitched as the saner alternative.

The campaign for the Lakeland, Fla., client also includes online and print work. It runs through next June.

Commercials that break in Florida on Oct. 6 show Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden encouraging support for the tariff on orange juice imported from other countries. Brazil, the world’s largest orange grower, has been mobilizing support to pressure the U.S. to lower the tariff, which is currently 28.7 cents per gallon. The issue was among the reasons for the premature breakup this month of the World Trade Organization summit in Cancun, Mexico.

In one spot, Gruden stands on a football field and says, “Right now, foreign governments are working to eliminate the tariff on imported orange juice. That would devastate Florida’s orange-juice industry. If that happens, we all lose.” Agricultural footage is interspersed throughout.

The FDOC’s ads are paid for by Florida’s citrus growers. A group of six growers, however, filed suit against the FDOC last September, arguing that having to fund generic ad campaigns—which Florida has been airing since the early 1960s—forces them to support commercial speech against their will. A circuit-court judge in Polk County, Fla., ruled in their favor in March. The case is now on appeal.

Michael McMahon, a lawyer representing the six growers, said ads aimed at increasing orange-juice consumption do not boost the growers’ profits. Since Florida growers tend to sell their entire crops, leaving no extra inventory to offload, retailers and importers are the ones who benefit from generic advertising, McMahon said. “If we don’t grow enough fruit in this country to meet demand, and if you’re advertising to sell more, where does it come from?” he said.

A report commissioned by the FDOC and released in May suggests that each dollar spent on advertising results in two to four more gallons of orange juice sold in the U.S. McMahon’s clients say the report is flawed.

Despite the battles, Richards is proceeding as though it were “business as usual,” creative group head Mike Malone said.

U.S. sales of orange juice have been flat since 1999, according to FDOC. The citrus industry generates $9 billion a year for Florida, the country’s largest citrus producer, and employs 90,000 people in the state.