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Florida Citrus Marketers Enlist Three Health Organizations for Ad Campaign

September 25, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ Florida citrus marketers, who once relied on celebrities like Anita Bryant and Burt Reynolds to pitch their orange juice, have cast three health organizations in starring roles in a new advertising campaign.

The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the March of Dimes are lending their names to a $30 million campaign that says Florida citrus products can help prevent some serious diseases.

In return, the organizations are getting $1.7 million over the next year from the citrus industry, said Daniel Santangelo, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus.

The quasi-government agency is responsible for marketing Florida citrus with money derived from fees paid by the state’s citrus growers and processors.

The campaign was unveiled Wednesday in the Weill Recital Hall, which is part of the Carnegie Hall complex in Manhattan. The first commercial debuts Sunday and will run 200 times on broadcast and cable television over the next seven days to make sure most TV viewers see it more than once.

Santangelo said the campaign marks a break from earlier ad efforts that pushed fruit juice as a refreshing and tasty alternative to soft drinks.

The singer Bryant lost her job as Florida’s first orange juice spokeswoman when she led an anti-gay rights campaign in the 1970s. Reynolds’ one-year commercial contract for Florida orange juice was not renewed after he went through a highly publicized divorce a few years ago.

The new campaign is designed to alert people that they can help prevent some types of cancer, heart disease and birth defects by including orange and grapefruit juice in their diets.

The opening 30-second commercial shows an illustration of a green tree laden with oranges and grapefruit.

An announcer says the American Cancer Society recognizes ``a healthy diet including Florida orange juice could reduce the risk of some cancers.″ Some oranges disappear from the tree.

The announcer says the American Heart Association has ``certified Florida grapefruit and grapefruit juice as part of a heart-healthy diet″ and the grapefruit disappear.

Finally, he says the March of Dimes says ``the vitamin folic acid in orange juice could prevent certain birth defects.″ The last orange falls from the tree and rolls away.

``Don’t worry. There are 96 million more trees where that came from,″ the ad says. ``One hundred percent pure Florida citrus. Are you drinking enough?″

The citrus growers are spending $3 million _ 10 percent of the year’s ad budget _ on running the commercial the first week. Ads will also appear in newspapers and magazines, and promotions will later be held in stores.

Future ads will focus on each health organization’s view of how citrus fruits can help prevent diseases.

The Cancer Society will get $1 million for its participation in the campaign, Santangelo said, while the March of Dimes gets $600,000 and the Heart Association gets ``upwards of $100,000.″

Some critics have faulted health organizations for agreeing to license their name to profit-making enterprises, saying it could raise doubts about the organizations’ independence and fair treatment of competing products.

But the organizations said they teamed up with the Florida citrus industry because it was the chief source of citrus consumed in the United States and would spend heavily delivering a message they liked _ people can head off some serious diseases by changing their diets.

The organizations said they never intended to signal by lending their names to the campaign that they felt Florida citrus was better than citrus grown anywhere else.

``As a charity, we can’t afford paid advertising to get out the message,″ said Richard B. Johnston Jr., medical director of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation. ``We wanted to take maximum advantage of this chance to save some children from lifelong disability.″

The Florida citrus growers aren’t steering entirely clear of celebrities in this campaign. They have cooperated with the Cancer Society and the Heart Association in creating public service ads featuring actress Lauren Bacall and ex-tennis star Chris Evert. But those ads will be run at the discretion of TV stations which choose to air them for free.

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