Tropicana wins the race to health claim

BRADENTON, FL: Ketchum was the PR agency at the center of a top-secret project for Tropicana that culminated last week with the launch of the claim on the product's packaging stating orange juice is 'good for cardiovascular health.'

BRADENTON, FL: Ketchum was the PR agency at the center of a top-secret project for Tropicana that culminated last week with the launch of the claim on the product's packaging stating orange juice is 'good for cardiovascular health.'

BRADENTON, FL: Ketchum was the PR agency at the center of a top-secret project for Tropicana that culminated last week with the launch of the claim on the product's packaging stating orange juice is 'good for cardiovascular health.'

Health claims are an increasingly popular way of marketing food products, and to be the first orange juice brand to claim cardiovascular benefits represents a signifiant competitive coup for Tropicana.

The launch, which took place October 30, hinged on the timing of the FDA. Under guidelines laid out in 1997, the FDA had 120 days to deny Tropicana's application to use the health statement.

The claim is based on the level of potassium found in orange juice, and Tropicana submitted statements from the National Academy of Sciences to confirm its health benefits.

The challenge was to launch the claim before other food companies got wind of the FDA's approval. Under the guidelines, once a food product is allowed to state health benefits, other companies can use the same claim as long as their products meet the standard.

Besides some logistical rearranging due to the Subway Series in New York, confidentiality was preserved and the launch took place to maximum effect.

The day after the press announcement, Tropicana held a sampling at the New York Stock Exchange and the company's CEO, Brock Leach, rang the bell at the close of trading.

Ilene Smith, account supervisor in Ketchum's food and nutrition group, worked with a team of six on the project.

The team prepared three audio news releases, one general release, and one each for the Hispanic and African-American markets. The latter group tends to have the highest rate of blood pressure in the US.

The health story was covered in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Reuters, CNN Headline News and ABC News Radio, among others.

A study commissioned by Tropicana prior to the launch found that most consumers are unaware of the role potassium plays in keeping blood pressure down. 'We've been shaping this as a public health campaign,' Smith said.



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