A version of this column originally appeared in Growing Produce. Doug Ackerman served as FDOC executive director from 2011 through July 2015.
In my last column, I drew some careful parallels between what is going on in Florida’s citrus industry and events from our nation’s military history. Using the example of “Doolittle’s Raiders,” I noted that the demands of combat create a fertile ground for innovation: In order to survive and thrive, we must generate new ideas, make bold decisions — and, ultimately, adapt.
I also promised our industry would see evidence of a “new and improved” Florida Department of Citrus at the 2014 Florida Citrus Industry Annual Conference. And the FDOC team delivered on that promise in June. At that meeting, we unveiled exciting new plans for domestic marketing and public relations. The tone we set — a direct response to the input we’ve received from growers across the state, as well as from our brand partners — will permeate everything you see from the Department as we move forward.
The core of our new philosophy is profoundly shaped by the industry. The very viability of our growers is at stake. We have seen, heard, and felt the industry engaging in repeated exercises of belt-tightening while also continuing to find ways to invest in innovation. In the face of enormous obstacles, Florida’s citrus industry has continued to set an example of courage, optimism, and resilience.
Our new plan of action is a tribute to that spirit. We have embraced flexibility, creativity, and swagger as hallmarks of your new FDOC. The “Amazing Inside” campaign has been designed to allow us maximum impact and control, even in uncertain times. We no longer have the bulk of our budget tied up in up-front TV buys, and we have taken dramatic steps to bring core PR and marketing functionality in-house where we can be strategic, efficient, and responsive as conditions in the groves and in the market dictate.
We have taken steps to expand our plan’s impact, even with a reduced budget. We are standardizing our branding and messaging efforts, building equity in the “Amazing Inside” family of Florida Citrus logos, and integrating all communication with our nutrition messaging using the new “Amazing 5” graphics and text. Our retail marketing program has set goals to exceed anything we’ve done in recent years and will be working with diverse partners in grocery, convenience store, and foodservice outlets across the country. Our in-school outreach program, which has traditionally been limited to the state of Florida, is going national thanks to an exciting new partnership with Marvel Comics, who will be redesigning “Captain Citrus” as a true superhero.
Connect And Engage
Other innovations include a family of websites and social channels linked with the logic and utility you might associate with powerhouses such as Amazon. Even our iconic welcome center juice sampling program will be transformed into a vital element of our “Amazing Inside” campaign engaging Florida visitors in FDOC’s social media outlets and educating those consumers in real time about the nutritional benefits of our products while encouraging them to share their citrus stories online.
The unifying theme for all that we do — “There’s Amazing Inside” — will ensure everyone who is touched by our work will feel the confidence of the wonderful men and women who make Florida’s signature crop exactly what it is: amazing.