TEMPEST IN A JUICE GLASS

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Everybody directly involved must like the aftertaste from the Rush Limbaugh/orange juice brouhaha.

So what if the National Organization for Women's boycott of Florida juice was a fizzle at the checkout counter? By denouncing the Florida Department of Citrus for including Rush in its "personality radio" buy, NOW mobilized Limbaugh-haters and ratcheted up its membership marketing and fund-raising efforts.

Then Limbaugh, of all people, who seems to relish baiting feminists as "femi-Nazis," got to play the role of persecuted victim.

As for the Florida citrus folk, there may have been some who were unhappy about their "pure product" being caught up in this political spat. But good sales numbers make up for a lot of things, and sales-NOW boycott or not-were very good.

The protagonists in this little media sideshow will miss it now that it's done. Or is it? NOW already is eyeing a sequel. It's trying to cast other Limbaugh advertisers in the orange juice role, singling out Sears, Snapple and Orkin for having "paid for [Limbaugh] to accuse us of being Nazis."

No doubt there are some real political convictions behind the NOW/Limbaugh feud. It's not merely a Punch-and-Judy farce. But most consumers, if they noticed at all, viewed it as a spectator sport-not something that mattered enough to change what they drank at their breakfast tables.

There is, however, a question of conviction-marketing conviction-that's yet to be answered.

The Florida Department of Citrus says it's "very pleased" with the results of its personality radio strategy (it bought Larry King and Dr. Dean Edell as well as Limbaugh). When and if their agency says, "Forget about NOW; let's give Rush another whirl," what will Florida officials say?

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