Tropicana apologizes for hidden mimosa campaign after backlash
Orange juice and booze don’t mix, at least when it comes to marketing—a lesson Tropicana is learning the hard way. The PepsiCo-owned brand this week issued an apology on Twitter after backlash grew over its campaign urging stressed-out parents to stash the orange juice and Champagne in hidden mini fridges, so they can enjoy surreptitious cocktails.
The effort, from MullenLowe PR and Cramer-Krasselt, is part of a wave of marketing appearing across many industries this year in which brands attempt to empathize with parents going through rough times during the pandemic. But in this case, Tropicana waded into controversial territory, as critics pounced on the brand for encouraging parents to sneak alcoholic drinks.
Among the complaints was this one, posted to Instagram from sobriety advocate Megan Camille: “Your new TV commercial directly targeting vulnerable, stressed out, anxious parents during the pandemic is epic. I hope that it sells a ton of orange juice, so that you will responsibly donate the profits to Recovery Centers of America, actually 'helping' the millions of parents who are struggling with alcohol right now.”
In an apology posted to Twitter, Tropicana wrote that it has ceased the campaign and that “the intent behind it was in no way meant to imply that alcohol is the answer or make light of the struggles of addiction.”
The campaign, which used the hashtag #TakeAMimoment deployed celebrities Molly Sims, Gabrielle Union and Jerry O’Connell on social media. Union’s participation is no longer apparent on her Instagram account, but Page Six, which viewed one of her ads before it was deleted, describes it this way: “Union’s ad shows her sneaking into a bathroom in a robe—presumably in the morning—to mix up a cocktail from ingredients hidden in her vanity.”
The gaffe is an example of brands and agencies failing to do their homework, or at least overlooking potential pitfalls in search of attention. The fact that orange juice is a kid-friendly beverage did not help Tropicana’s cause.
Also, those involved with the campaign could have gotten a lesson from the alcohol industry, which abides by self-regulations that discourage such tactics. Among the rules from liquor industry trade group DISCUS are prohibitions against content that “portrays persons in a state of intoxication or in any way suggests that intoxication is socially acceptable conduct” or “makes curative or therapeutic claims, except as permitted by law.”
Of course, the rules are up for interpretation and booze brands have skirted the edges of what is socially acceptable. Ryan Reynolds-backed Aviation Gin earlier this year touted a “home school” edition of the brand, that amounted to an oversized bottle, marketed as “the official sponsor of parent-gin conferences.”