Tropicana to return to old packaging design

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I had a sharp intake of breath when I read this on Stefan Boublil's Twitter (via the NYT): Tropicana is to revert to its old packaging (Designed by Sterling Brands) , following a furore of dislike of the new packaging designed by Arnell Group. Although Tropicana claims that the change is due to the opinion of the few, and not the many “it was a fraction of a percent of the people who buy the product", the amount of negative press the redesign has had makes me think that the feeling was more universal than Tropicana lets on.

Although the

Pepsi

packaging also has caused controversy and attention (both of which are great things for any brand, negative or positive), the Tropicana redesign had people muttering the words "boycott" under their breath. I don't think that the old Pepsi design had much equity and arguably, almost anything would have been better than the former branding. On the other hand, Tropicana's equities were steadfast: Tropicana's equity lies in the fact that they own the orange. The symbolism of a straw stuck pushed straight through the skin of an orange is the very definition of freshness and purity. Stripping the layers of meaning away by using an image of a glass of orange juice suggests that of a me-too brand – one that does not own the definition of spontaneity of an orange bursting with juice, but merely a product, poured into a glass. Not special, not different – and not ownable. This is not to say that the pack couldn't have done with a redesign. But one that understands, respects and makes use of the equities inherent in an established, respected and ubiquitous brand. 

I will be interested to see how the design recall fares and whether there will be subsequent backlash against this decision too. We consumers are fickle beings. This happened a few years ago in the UK Jaffa Cakes recalled the discontinued packaging by

Williams Murray Hamm

, a design that conversely was universally lauded by both consumers and the design community.