LAKE WALES, FL: Florida’s Natural Growers, the producer of not-from-concentrate Florida’s Natural brand orange and grapefruit juices, has selected Exponent as its first PR AOR.
The agency started working with Florida’s Natural Growers last month after a competitive review that started in October. The company’s CMO, Chris Groom, said 10 firms were initially considered before it whittled the search to three finalists: Spong, Golin, and Exponent.
Although Florida’s Natural products are available in 60 countries, Exponent will focus on the brand in the US. The agency will lead all PR efforts for the brand, including media relations, influencer engagement, and reputation management. Media engagement will focus on Florida’s Natural’s programs, product launches, and personnel announcements.
The communications work will complement the brand’s new communications strategy, brand identity, and packaging, all focused on its grower-owned cooperative.
"[Florida’s Natural] is a farmer-owned cooperative, so the [more than 1,000] farmers that are raising the oranges are the ones who own the company," said Exponent MD Tom Lindell. "That is a great story for consumers who really want brands to be authentic and want to know where their food comes from. We are going to help them tell that story."
Groom added that being grower-owned and the fact that its product consists of 100% Florida oranges and grapefruits sets Florida’s Natural apart from competitors.
"We want to give [our grower-owners] a strong return for their citrus, and we want to build our market share," he said, on why the 83-year-old company decided to bring on a PR AOR for the first time. "Awareness of our brand and affinity for our brand are strong contributors to a good return to our growers as well as market-share growth. Obviously, PR doesn’t do that alone, but it is an important part of the mix for us to be adding at this time."
He added that the organization chose Exponent due to its "extremely detailed" and brand-focused PR strategy it pitched during the review process. Groom also noted its experience with food and agricultural companies and cooperatives.
"Exponent is going to provide a great complement to our advertising work [with Merkley + Partners]," said Groom. "Our brand has a great story and many consumers know about it, but there are opportunities for more to find out about it through different avenues than what we have communicated in the past."
Merkley + Partners manages Florida’s Natural Growers’ social media accounts, but Exponent will be creating content for the channels.
Five Exponent staffers will work on the account, led by Bernice Neumann, the firm’s practice leader for food and nutrition.
"This is a brand that wants modern PR and sees that modern PR can change consumer behavior versus the old tried and true approaches of PR," said Lindell. "They want to use influencers in new and different ways that are authentic and help to get their word out."
Budget information was not disclosed.