A bright idea.

Tropicana has proved itself to be the “sunshine juice” in a new marketing execution aimed at bringing the sun to dreary, grey London (and oh how we need it right now!) in collaboration with art collective Greyworld. A large orb has been erected in Trafalgar Square, as if the column had finally decided to bear fruit. Lit up at (what should be) sunrise and sunset, it glows majestically over the square. I have yet to see it, but you can watch a video at http://www.tropicana.co.uk and see passing faces lit up by its radiance.

The reason why this resonates so well with me is that it echoes an installation by Olar Eliasson held at the Tate Modern a few years ago – an artwork that rose out of a common language known to all of us: the weather. Oh how we run to the sun when we are lucky enough to see its glowing face in the northern hemisphere! Despite being one of the most economically and socially developed countries in Europe, Sweden has the highest suicide rate on the continent, purely because they suffer so many dark days. Light has a special place in the world of the seeing – it has biblical, spiritual and life giving power. Artists do beautiful things with light. Dan Flavin, James Turrell and even Tracey Emin.

A friend spoke to me animatedly about the Tropicana stunt, calling it an “installation” – typically a term used these days to describe a work of art in situ, working with its environment. This observation is spot on. The Tropicana marketing team’s decision to recreate the sun in Trafalgar Square is no coincidence: home to the National and National Portrait Galleries, as well as the Fourth Plinth space allies it with art. Now, if I was writing critically about art, I would probably be up in arms about this campaign, as one YouTube viewer sniffily commented, “My, did my heart sink when I got to the “part of Tropicana’s Brighter Mornings campaign.” I guess we can’t have art for art’s sake in public anymore without a corporate sponsor.“, but I appreciate Tropicana’s nod to the arts and enlightened vision of what its British consumers really want.

The brilliant thing about Tropicana, is that it in its past it has really reflected the 3-dimensionality of the orange: previous packaging had an orange with a straw rammed deep into its pulp. You can imagine holding it and taking a big gulp of refreshing juice (bits or no bits, as preferred). Although the packaging has had a sour turn or two, the current marketing strategy brings the tangibility back to the juice. It is a big, bold move that outstrips the competition for innovation.

Perhaps now it is time for Tropicana to take another bold step and revisit its packaging?

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