Forget “adventures” to go apple picking, pumpkin spice everything, and haunted hayrides; the most interesting part of fall mania is the start of Mandarin orange hybrid season. These hybrids are commonly referred to as clementines or Murcotts. They’re in-season from November until April and are the mainstay of school lunches, fancy salads, and healthy snack around the United States. Given their bright colors, appeal to parents and children, and seasonal nature, timely and highly visual social media marketing seem like a perfect fit for clementine (and Murcott) brands.
In contrast to the two brands mentioned below, Darling positions its self as a more “adult” clementine. A quick glance and its social media accounts shows that it is devoid of the bubbly, smiling little orange mascots of the other brands. Instead there are sleek, tasteful photographs, grownup recipes, and cocktails. Darling is division of New York-based LGS Sales and imports its fruit from Spain, Morocco, and South America. Darling markets across four social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Its content is integrated quite nicely across the latter three platforms and the Pinterest account pins thousands of clementine-related recipes. While the brand has a healthy quarter of a million followers on Facebook, its certainly has room to grow on Twitter and Instagram. Its Twitter pulls in about 3,000 followers with about half that on Instagram. Given Darling’s great use of photographic material, Instagram seems like an especially nice fit. The brand also does not currently use its own hashtags, instead opting for the generic #clementine, which it hardly dominates.
In contrast to Darling, Cuties positions its self as kid-orientated, bright and cartoonish (in the best way possible). The brand, which is a division of California’s Sun Pacific, boasts almost half a million Facebook followers and about 3,000 more on each of its Instagram and Twitter (@cutiescitrus) accounts. Its integrated Facebook and Instagram feeds are loaded with family-friendly jokes, recipes, display ads, coupons, and contests. Unlike the other major clementine brands, it also has Snapchat account. Cuties does a fine job focusing on the twin themes of sweetness and family, encouraging its readers to brighten up their holidays (with clementines, of course), do crafts with their children, and share pictures such as their “Sweet Parent Award.”
In March, Cuties ran a #Sweeter16 campaign, suggesting different snack pairings with their fruit. More recently, they have teamed with up iHeartRadio to run a video contest where parents submit videos of their children defining the term “sweet’ to win a chance to attend the Jingle Ball concert in Los Angeles. Cuties’ current campaign, #100DaysofSunshine, kicked off on November 1st to coincide with the start of clementine season. Their Facebook and Instagram accounts have been posting a semi-regular stream of fun display ads and other content aimed at kids and parents alike. For instance, the fruit seller urges us to “Brighten up #BlackFriday with a sweet snack while you shop for your little cuties.”
However, no brand is perfect. Their Twitter account has not been active since July, despite the ongoing campaign and the start of clementine season. In addition, their Instagram appears to have made a bit of a misstep by embracing the #GrownWithLove hashtag. The hashtag is routinely used by marijuana growers showcasing their crops on Instagram. Woops. Or perhaps its an elaborate round about way to market healthy snacks to those with the munchies? I sort of doubt it.
Halos is the principle competitor with Cuties for mastery over the American family clementine market. It is therefore unsurprising that their brand image is similar to their rival’s, right down to the adorable mascot. Halos, which is part of Wonderful Fruits, also grows their product in the San Joaquin Valley in California. Their online presence began with an onsite blog, which featured over a hundred posts until the spring of 2017. However, Halos should take a page out of their competitor’s playbook when it comes to digital marketing. Although their Facebook account has around 600,000 followers and is integrated with Twitter, it’s much less active than Halos’. It had laid dormant from April until Thanksgiving weekend. Furthermore, the brand does not currently have an Instagram account, which has the potential to add at least an additional few thousand followers.
Halos does some great work, though. They make use of bright, fun display pieces, similar to Cuties, short videos, and they like to highlight youth sports, where clementines are a ubiquitous snack. They also make use of content marketing, with offerings such as crafts. Most recently, they released stickers of the different U.S. states on their fruit that could be collected and placed on a printed out map of the country. I may have casually snagged a few.
Halos has also recently launched another television campaign, using their #GoodChoiceKid slogan. The new spots, which came out this month, have similar humor but are now aimed specifically at adults. According to a piece on MediaPost, “this season’s campaign will also feature its biggest digital advertising investment to date, with a new influencer program and stepped-up efforts across its social media platforms. “ It remains to be seen if the commercials, which explicitly use the “Good Choice Kid” tagline, will drive further social media engagement.
Whether they have embraced the family persona or a more grownup approach, Clementine brands have shown themselves to be savvy digital marketers. They have embraced content marketing, catchy display ads, and have engaged customers with campaigns with varying degrees of success. I for one am looking forward to see what adult beverage recipes or collecting games they can come up with this season.