Throwback throwaways

by Jaley Cranford

As I punched the button for a familiar soda choice, I awaited a familiar purple can. But the purple marketing blunder that I grabbed was a far cry from the Grapico can of my childhood.

Though the packaging bears no influence on the familiar taste of the grape soda, I was incapable of enjoying it. This horrific rebranding begged the question: what guy at Grapico fell asleep at the wheel and sent this idea forward?

Grapico has long been packaged in a purple can with a diagonal text logo.

The rebranding shows a grape that I expect to dance at any moment accompanied by a new tagline: A Southern Tradition.

Conflicting ideas? Anyone who is drawn to the clipart-esque cartoon of a grape is probably more interested in when Dora the Explorer airs than the idea of Southern tradition. More than the obvious discrepancy . . . and tagline . . . and art, this product looks like an off-brand soda. When I first saw this can, I paid no mind and assumed that someone had brought a can of Walmart grape soda from home. Is that the way Buffalo Rock wants to market Grapico?

Maybe the soda market is a breeding ground for bad rebranding ideas. Mountain Dew, Mellow Yellow and Grapico have all done a round of throwback cans recently. But apparently Mountain Dew and Pepsi throwbacks are here to stay.

Bevreview.com reported Buffalo Rock announced both Pepsi and Mountain Dew would be available in a throwback can or bottle for the indefinite future. Due to overwhelming positive responses from fans, the soda company kept this

Who are these adoring fans? Who are the millions in love with these cartoon relics that are a mockery of design? Apparently some such fans are running Grapico.

According to an article on al.com, Buffalo Rock execs said, “This ‘new retro’ look brings together the nostalgic best of Grapico’s proud history and the ever-growing popularity of the same grape great taste.”

The article continued with a quote from another proud figurehead. “We really wanted to splice something old with something new to create a new look for Grapico and Diet Grapico,” said Buffalo Rock Chairman/CEOJames C. Lee III.

New? I’m still searching. Maybe it’s the clipart grape . . . that was new . . . in 1998. I’m not against throwback packaging. But this Grapico has turned into a big purple mess.

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5 Comments

Filed under Career, The Industry

5 responses to “Throwback throwaways

  1. Kera Cottingham

    I really believe that the idea of rebranding a product to essentially look older as they do with throwbacks sounds crazy in itself. I can understand the thought of giving the product nostalgia, but doesn’t that undermine the current nostalgia of the product? I want the products I like to be recognizable to me as a consumer. When companies completely undermine their own successful product branding by “throwingback,” it makes me ask why? Thank you for presenting this topic for I fully understand the frustration of a throwback. To you companies out there considering a throwback of your product, I ask you to reconsider and give your current branding a little credit.

  2. Jenna Snyder

    I think that the throwback idea for a product has a great deal of value. Especially when trying to attract an older more mature consumer. If the product has been around for a while they might be more inclined to buy it if they think, “Hey that’s the way it looked when I was a kid.” I think it adds credibility to the brand. It proves the product has been around for years and that improvements have been made. Even professional and college sports teams use the throwback idea for uniforms occasionally. That being said, I agree that the use of throwbacks should not be a permanent change to the brand. Throwback branding should be used to add credibility only on occasion, for example a special edition of the product. Permanent branding should be kept current and fresh. The company, in this case Grapico, does not want to give off the impression of backtracking as Cranford pointed out. Instead, they should keep the brand identity current showing the progress and innovation of the brand and product.

  3. Nicole Bryan

    Kera, what do you mean by “current nostalgia?” Nostalgia is a yearning for the past. There is nothing current about that.

    I think companies selling throwbacks is a neat idea, as long as it is only done for a short time period alongside the current packaging. I guess I just find the look and feel of decades past packaging neat. I don’t drink Grapico and I’m not as impassioned about this particular brand redesign as you are but I applaud their effort to try to stand out on the shelf. Obviously the redesign is doing what Grapico hoped it would do- getting people to talk about the drink. Besides, Pepsi changed its design a while back. Grapico isn’t the first and only brand to change design schemes. I just see it as part of the cycle of business for Grapico.

  4. Katie Kallam

    I think throwback rebranding can be a neat idea if done the right way. The overall look should remain consistent with what the consumer is used to seeing. Otherwise, it leads to confusion or lack of recognition of the product, which is the last thing the company wants to happen. It should also not take the place of the current branding, just supplement it, and only be offered for a limited time.

    I do, however, enjoy the nostalgic feel of throwback logos. It can capture the classic feel and remind consumers of the legacy of some of these well-established companies. It also grabs the attention of the consumer who may not normally try that product. Also, offering these throwbacks for a limited time can increase demand of the product.

    Thanks for your insights! I really enjoyed the article.
    Katie Kallam

  5. Janie Enloe

    The fact that you noticed the change in the Grapico can, wrote about the change and multiple people are commenting about it means that Grapico did something right. I am now sitting in my room craving a Grapico. I don’t think it matters if the change is good or bad, as long as Grapico is getting noticed and talked about, the advertisers did their job.

    I do agree that offering a throwback edition for a limited time can increase the sales of a product. Some brands gain credibility by not changing their branding at all like the zebra Fruit Stripe gum. This gum isn’t the best gum but they have not changed the texture, taste or packaging. So, every time I see it, I will most likely buy it. But I think that a company needs to keep changing and staying up to date with their packaging in order for people to notice the product.

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