Conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh, whose talk show was part of the commission's latest media buy, is so offensive to the National Organization for Women that the group last week began a campaign urging consumers to "Flush Rush: Drink prune juice."
NOW calls the action a way "to exercise freedom of choice when buying orange juice and all citrus products."
But several NOW chapters didn't mince words: "L.A. NOW joins NOW chapters and other people who care about the human rights of all people to make sure that [the commission's support of Mr. Limbaugh] devastates their product," said Tammy Bruce, president of Los Angeles NOW.
NOW's campaign includes leaflets at supermarkets; a letter, fax and phone effort; and demonstrations.
NOW also wants Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles to "increase diversity" on the 12-member citrus commission, which has 11 white men and one white woman.
"If you have to buy orange juice, buy it from California," said M.J. Seide, membership director of Florida NOW.
The group is also urging a boycott of all Coca-Cola Co. products because of the company's ownership of Minute Maid orange juice.
"We were very upset and very disappointed that the actions of the [citrus commission] have caused the Minute Maid brand to be targeted in this way," said a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Foods.
Coca-Cola Foods hasn't asked the citrus commission to stop advertising on Mr. Limbaugh's show out of fear of further polarizing consumers. But the company is lobbying the commission to adopt safeguards against future public relations problems.
NOW joins a growing number of groups opposed to Mr. Limbaugh's spots for Florida oranges. The National Federation of Business & Professional Women's Clubs announced a boycott in the capitol rotunda in Tallahassee, Fla., last week. And Gay & Lesbian Americans on March 12 began a one-week boycott in gay bars of any drinks made with orange juice.
"There is certainly a lot of activity," said a commission spokeswoman. "At this point, we're sticking with our ad buy, but we're monitoring the situation."
The spokeswoman said as of March 9 the commission had received 8,216 calls, letters and faxes concerning Mr. Limbaugh-3,488 were pro, 4,726 were against and two were undecided.
The commission has spent $1 million of its new $17.1 million campaign for time on Mr. Limbaugh's talk show, via Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York. As with radio buys on the Larry King and Dr. Dean Edell radio shows, Mr. Limbaugh personally promotes the product on the air. None is an official spokesman.
Mr. Limbaugh is "upset" about the protests against him, said Stuart Krane, a partner with EFM Media, New York, which produces and syndicates Mr. Limbaugh's show. "He's used to it, but he doesn't like it when people say mean things about him," Mr. Krane said.
When NOW President Patricia Ireland led a demonstration at a Kash n' Karry supermarket in Tampa, the local radio station that carries Mr. Limbaugh's program urged listeners to buy all the store's orange juice.M
Marcy Magiera contributed to this story.