From Ripe to Rotten: Tropicana And a Tone Deaf Advertisement

Tropicana really needs to learn how to read a room.

Tropicana is not my first choice for orange juice but it is one that’s readily available in most stores, even gas stations. More often than not, if there’s not another choice for OJ, I’ll pick it up.

Until I saw their latest ad campaign running on Instagram.

If you hadn’t seen it, Tropicana ran the worst ad possible during a global pandemic where alcoholism is on the rise. In this campaign, three celebrities, Molly Sims, Jerry O’Connell, and Gabrielle Union, showcase a mini fridge filled with ingredients for a mimosa. The trick here is that the fridge is always disguised as something like a hamper, vanity, or toolbox, so that the user can sneak off and drink without anyone ever catching on. And it was completely targeted at parents.

It was all about taking a moment to get away from your family and drink to make things better because as a parent, you deserve it, right? According to the ad, it might even make you a better parent.

Alcohol isn’t self-care

In our current culture with “mommy juice” and daddy needing his beer after a hard day, it’s easy to forget that those things aren’t healthy standards. There’s a lie that’s been built up for so long that alcohol is a form of self-care and anyone who has gone through and seen the other side with sobriety, knows that it isn’t a solution for anything. This isn’t to say that anyone who drinks is a bad parent or anything like that, but it has to be responsible drinking.

Sneaking off to your hidden alcohol is not responsible. Thinking that you need alcohol to relax is not healthy.

If you happened to see the advertisement and felt it was way off the mark, you aren’t alone. Tropicana was getting bombarded with comments from people who have chosen not to drink, especially after becoming parents. Tropicana chose not to respond to any of those comments and instead, only replied to ones that spoke positively about drinking in secret.

Now the ad has been removed and all three actors have removed the campaign from their history as well but the damage was already done. Maybe not for the actors themselves but for a company that would market hiding from your family to drink, should still be held accountable.

If you want to read the full story from Page Six about the ad and its removal, you can find it here.

Targeting the stressed

But let’s talk about their intentions with this advertisement. While I’m happy that they removed it once there was an uproar over it, this campaign had to have been approved by a committee or at least more than one person. So more than one person thought it was okay to have a concealed fridge with alcohol and target it at parents who, during the pandemic, now have to juggle both a career and possibly even their children’s education. Things are stressful for everyone right now but I can’t imagine the stress a parent is going through right now because I’m not one.

Imagine if the advertisement had been shown the reality of a situation where someone felt the need to conceal their alcohol. This wouldn’t be a glamorous celebrity waltzing over to their tiny fridge, it’d be a tired parent who is using alcohol to cope with the stress in their lives. This would be someone who had gone from having a moment to needing a substance in their daily lives.

It’s not in good fun, we have to be serious

The comments that were positive on their campaign were a chilling tale as well. One comment said her moment is at 5p.m. every single day to which Tropicana had replied to saying it was great that she had those moments. Another said this campaign was genius which had irked me because there didn’t seem to be anything “genius” about hiding your drinking habits.

I realize it was meant to be lighthearted, this campaign, but the reality is grim with how easily we accept alcohol to be a huge part of our lives.

At the very least, we need to practice caution with campaigns like these because they set up standards and enforce ideals about alcohol that shouldn’t exist. It can be detrimental to someone’s recovery if we’re constantly being shown that alcohol is this amazing solution to all of our problems if only we hid it. And as a child of an alcoholic, the idea that parents deserved alcohol was used frequently in our household. The only thing it resulted in was me never seeing my father after a few drinks. No one deserves alcohol and no one deserves to be without a father because of alcoholism.

You can call me a poor sport, or someone who can’t take a joke, but once you see the other side, jokes about alcohol aren’t funny anymore, they’re just sad.

And it’s a huge responsibility to have that much power over “followers”; companies like Tropicana who have the reach that they do in social media need to be better role models.

Final thoughts

I’m happy that Tropicana realized this campaign was a mistake instead of leaning further into it but still hesitant to support a company that would have an advertisement like this during a pandemic.

We’re doing all that we can to survive in an environment that we aren’t built for, but replacing social interaction and routine with alcohol isn’t the answer.

If you find yourself struggling with alcohol during this pandemic, reach out to a medical professional and a therapist to work through the “why” behind your cravings. Some resources that helped me were places like The Temper, the subreddit /r/stopdrinking, and just reading tips about sobriety through various blogs.

And if ads like Tropicana’s upset you or trigger any cravings, you’re not alone. We’ve seen first hand that reaching out to companies and taking action can result in changing the stigma. Now is the best time to fight against the lies, and understand alcohol for what it really is for some- a poison that keeps them from truly having their best moments.

If you’re interested in my sober journey, check out these posts:

Austin,Texas sober girl. Lover of horror movies, cats, and fitness. Occasional bad poet.

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