What the fruit? Dole has a novel idea to resolve stuck-at-home ‘quaran-tensions’

The phrase ‘fruit bowls’ stands in for kids, swearing and other adult activities in a new campaign

Published On
Aug 19, 2020

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Adults stressed out while stuck at home with kids during the coronavirus pandemic now have a new safe phrase to utter when they’re about to snap: “fruit bowls.”

Dole Packaged Foods isn’t suggesting people eat more fruit, though of course that’s implied. It’s suggesting people say “fruit bowls” in moments when more colorful phrases won’t do. The brand’s “quaran-tension” premise is relatable for plenty of parents and grandparents. Plenty of people have moments when they try to stop themselves from swearing in front of young kids, wonder why their kids stress them out so much, and moments when they miss, well, an activity that led to them having kids in the first place.

In one of three new spots, grandparents now living with their grandchildren use “fruit bowls” as a secret love language. “We’re all eating a lot of fruit bowls, just not having a lot of fruit bowls,” the grandmother says.

The push is the latest play on the idea of lighthearted solutions for stressed-out families during quarantine. Potbelly set up special parking spots where parents could enjoy their sandwiches and shakes, sans kids. Virgin Hotels suggested its hotels for much-needed parent getaways. And Kraft’s message to parents in these tension-filled days is it's ok to serve macaroni & cheese for breakfast.

Dole's campaign ideas kept changing as the pandemic continued and the brand wanted to find a way to talk about how families are trying to juggle all of this, says Rupen Desai, global chief marketing officer for Dole Packaged Foods. 

In another spot, two moms use “fruit bowls” to talk about their kids without the kids’ knowledge. And in a third, a mother and father use “fruit bowl” rather than swearing. 

The campaign is surprisingly edgy for a brand that since January has used the phrase “Sunshine For All” to sell its packages of prepped fruit. It drops during what’s typically a busy season for the brand, as families stock up for back-to-school lunch and snacks. This season is shaping up differently as many school districts stick with remote learning to start the school year.

Dole Packaged Foods worked with Campbell-Ewald, Wild Combination and Spark Foundry on the campaign. The brand hasn’t cut its media budget this year. “We’re a firm believer that this isn’t a time to be silent, go off air, or reduce spends,” says Desai. 

Desai, who works from Singapore with Dole’s U.S. team based in Los Angeles, says for now the campaign will run in the United States and parts of South America, with the potential to expand to other markets. While the “quaran-tensions” premise may not work as well in countries that have recovered, the idea of replacing angst with fruit can change a bit. 

“Later in the year there’s always Christmas tensions,” says Desai. “There is all sorts of angst.”