USING CULTURE TO PROMOTE FRUIT:JAFFA FINDS NICHE, CREATES GLOBAL IDENTITY FOR AGRICULTURAL EXPORT

By Published on .

Most Popular
[jerusalem] Large wooden models of Viking boats presenting colorful store displays of citrus fruit are seen throughout Finland. So what's unusual about a particular display?

It is for Israeli-grown Jaffa brand citrus.

"Our agency there, Finnsitro, mixes local mythology with Jaffa oranges from the Middle East," said Tsiporet Eisenberg, head of the Advertising & Promotions Division of the Citrus Marketing Board of Israel. "We can't translate campaigns from Israel [into another culture], so we get into these cultures by using local promoters."

Jaffa's ability to grab significant market shares around the world can be attributed to a marketing approach that sees the world as dozens of unique markets with specific cultures. This approach is a lesson in the potential to create a brand identity through skillful marketing even for unlikely products like fruit.

As long as Jaffa can substantiate its distinctive claims about citrus fruits, it will be a marketing success, noted Tom Blackett, deputy chairman of Interbrand, a London-based marketing specialist. "A fruit is a commodity in that it can be produced by others. You therefore need to find a claim that nobody [else] can make."

With a different agency in each country, and market research identifying taste preferences, the CMBI promotes Israel's top agricultural export on a shoestring budget of $4.3 million.

PICKING ITSELF UP

While the Jaffa brand has been in international markets for decades and has traditionally been Israel's major agricultural export, one of today's marketing challenges is to re-establish the brand following a decade-long drop because of foreign competition, a weakened dollar and internal upheaval in Israeli agriculture.

But the 1991 privatization of the marketing of Israeli citrus gave individual growers more incentives to develop new strains of citrus and get higher prices; in addition, the CMBI was transformed from a monopolistic marketer to a centralized, supervisory board, with marketing and promotion falling under its aegis.

Now the CMBI, housed in a modest prefabricated building appropriately surrounded by sprawling agricultural fields in Beit Dagan outside Tel Aviv, is pushing to return export levels from a low of 180,000 tons in 1993 to their 1970s highs, when Israel was exporting nearly 1 million tons of citrus fruit a year.

Currently, exports are about 400,000 tons a year, which brings in about $365 million in revenues.

The CMBI wants to increase its share of the European market, which ranges from 20% to 40% depending on the country and the fruit. The key to this, Ms. Eisenberg said, is marketing according to each country's consumer preferences and research carried out in those specific markets.

BUDGET STRETCHING

This way, a small budget can be used for specific targets. Except for TV commercials in Finland, all European advertising is outdoor and point-of-purchase. While Jaffa fruit is exported around the globe, current campaigns are concentrated in Europe.

The French are Jaffa Sunrise Red Grapefruit eaters, and the campaign (from BDDP Worldwide subsidiary Jump, Paris) in retail stores encourages shoppers to "Passez au Rouge" ("Move over to red" or "Go through the red light"). With Florida grapefruit making a dent in Jaffa's 20% French market share, the current campaign includes posters stressing Jaffa grapefruits have a less flawed appearance with the slogan "You can see when it's Jaffa."

In the U.K., simulated supermarket tests showed shoppers will pay 20% more for Jaffa Shamouti oranges than for the average orange.

The awareness of the name Shamouti prompted Jaffa's London agency, Intertrade, to use the foreign-sounding name in posters.

However, there's a problem to overcome: Oranges are perceived as annoying to peel. That, combined with the knowledge that British consumers often squeeze oranges, resulted in a bus poster campaign reading "Jaffa Shamouti easy peeling oranges-let The Jaffa juice loose."

"Jaffa is one of the best marketers," said Darren Clough, citrus buying controller at the Tesco supermarket chain in the U.K. "Its campaign plan is very comprehensive, and gets better and better. The latest campaign points out that oranges are a value for the money, compared to, say, a Mars bar."

"The Italians are more philosophical about their citrus consumption," said Ms. Eisenberg. "They see Jaffa grapefruit as a solution to daily bad eating habits-as able to clean out the system." So McCann-Erickson Italiana, Milan, designed an outdoor and underground poster campaign with the slogan "Colpa e polpa" ("Guilt and pulp"). Jaffa grapefruit already has a 75% market share in Italy.

When budgets are tight, seasonal marketing is essential. To this end, promotional activities in Norway are restricted to stores in ski resorts, where the most oranges are consumed.

In fact, with such tight budgets, promotion sometimes has to be unconventional. In Japan, Jaffa's Sweetie-a cross between a grapefruit and a pomelo, which is yellow on the outside and sweet on the inside-has taken off unexpectedly, and the Japanese pay $3.50 for one piece of fruit. The CMBI will start formal advertising in Japan next year, but in the meantime, said Ms. Eisenberg, they are riding on the coattails of advertising for the Japanese Sweetie chewing gum brand.

"They're using our brand name without permission," Ms. Eisenberg said. But instead of filing a lawsuit, the CMBI is enjoying the free publicity.

DIFFERENT RULES AT HOME

While Jaffa fruit is seen abroad as an exotic fruit from a foreign land, a completely different approach is required for Israelis. Citrus fruit has been grown in Israel since long before independence in 1948, and research shows that young Israelis see citrus as old-fashioned fruit. Another problem facing local marketers is that Israelis don't like to peel oranges.

So a $500,000 campaign was created by Tel Aviv-based Admon Ha'hadash, also an affiliate of BDDP Worldwide, using sensual TV clips and posters of young, attractive models and the tagline "Strip an orange." The result: Young Israelis are coming back to the old fruit.

In this article: