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Iconic.

In the marketing realm, it is a standing strived for across industries, but one few truly achieve. No one can argue, though, that one image—that of a boy’s silhouette cycling across the illumination of a full moon with a blanketed figure in his basket—has successfully cemented itself into American movie culture.

I could simply point to your brow and say, “I’ll…be…right…here,” and little explanation would be needed. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is imprinted in cinematic Halloween history, and a few brands have soared along with it. Reese’s is one orange and gold iconic brand that has shared this spotlight, as has another staple closer to home.

“A Sunkist® orange carton donning the famous lollipop logo was sighted in the classic film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, which was released in 1982,” Christina Ward, Senior Director of Global Marketing, told me. “As we welcome the Halloween season and a milestone anniversary of the film, it seemed the perfect time to connect across generations.”

That’s right, as you settle into your Halloween movie list (everyone has one, right?), keep an eye out for the fresh fruit brand’s appearance. Because, as E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, Sunkist and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment are bringing the two icons back together, collaborating on an in-store and online promotion.

“We are ready to phone home with limited-time display bins and healthy Halloween recipes to showcase Sunkist lemons, Valencia oranges, and grapefruit,” Christina said with a smile. “Citrus has a way of bringing people together, and these promotions deliver a fun opportunity to engage consumers in a unique way. When we collaborate with other brands, including nostalgic movie titles, participating retailers see a lift in sales across the highlighted variety.”

“There is a heartfelt scene when Elliot says, ‘We could grow up together, E.T.’ This resonates a lot with our brand, as we know our consumers have grown with the classic film and our
iconic citrus all these years.”

Christina Ward, Senior Director of Global Marketing, Sunkist Growers

As someone who just obsessively absorbed all four seasons of the ’80s-celebrating series Stranger Things for a second time, I am a firsthand observer of how today’s storytelling and group nostalgia are weaving together the perfect basket for E.T. to fly into today’s market across all channels. He is one of the original aliens to tug on the heartstrings of Gen Xers and millennials, an example Gen Z has shown itself to be all too happy to follow. Reimaginings, reboots, and even continuations like that of the new Jurassic movies show a modern audience for classic box office busters.

“There is a heartfelt scene when Elliot says, ‘We could grow up together, E.T.’ This resonates a lot with our brand, as we know our consumers have grown with the classic film and our iconic citrus all these years,” Christina reflected. “Many millennials and Zoomers are now serving as primary household shoppers. This campaign reaches key consumers and shares the rich growing history of Sunkist and the iconic moments that have made it one of the most beloved citrus brands in the world.”

Sunkist is the longest-standing agricultural cooperative in the nation, Christina added, and since its 1980s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial cameo, has expanded its citrus portfolio from Cara Caras, Blood oranges, and Minneola Tangelos to Meyer lemons and Ojai Pixie tangerines, as well as to a wide assortment of organics and more.

“In-season Sunkist citrus varieties include Valencia oranges, lemons, and grapefruit, with Sunkist California Mandarins making the scene at the end of October. While Valencia oranges are known for being the perfect juicing orange, they are also great as a snack and a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. Another culinary superstar is the Sunkist lemon. Through our S’alternative® program, we share how to make food taste better while cutting down on salt and sodium intake without sacrificing flavor. All of our in-season varieties can be displayed in the limited-edition E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial bins, available in square and quarter sizes, to support citrus sales in October. This is an important objective because, while candy is usually the go-to treat this time of year, we know shoppers are still looking for immune-boosting benefits from the food they consume,” Christina pointed out.

"All of our in-season varieties can be displayed in the limited-edition E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial bins, available in square and quarter sizes, to support citrus sales in October. This is an important objective because, while candy is usually the go-to treat this time of year, we know shoppers are still looking for immune-boosting benefits from the food they consume."

The Sunkist and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial collaboration kicked off October 1, and the team is partnering with food and lifestyle influencers to create healthy, kid-friendly treats for Halloween, with inspiration for consumers at Sunkist.com, Pinterest, and Instagram.

“Consumers can benefit from citrus’ versatility by adding a pop of color with a citrus-themed charcuterie board perfect for gatherings and our Halloween-themed recipes, including fan-favorite lemon cauldrons using just three ingredients and the whole fruit,” Christina advised. “In-store is the number-one source of awareness for citrus shoppers, and we are ready to dress up the produce aisle with our limited-edition, E.T.-themed display bins. Our social media promotions during the season will also include YouTube influencers reacting to the classic film and a weekly trivia game throughout the month.”

Most importantly, the Sunkist sales and marketing team supports these programs with an omnichannel approach to drive sales and lift the category. Ensuring the narrative continues to follow the consumer from the time they see the citrus—in-store virtually or physically—to when they are preparing to enjoy it, current purchases are satiated while whetting the appetite for future spending.

In short: offer modern ways to boost fresh consumption with classic nostalgic ties, joining forces across time to tip the scales of Halloween eating toward the produce department.

“Our memorable brand, fresh fruit, and signature packaging have made cameos in pop culture throughout the years. Sunkist has been around for a while now—in fact, we’re getting ready to commemorate 130 years as a fresh citrus cooperative, and it all began here in California. We are proudly utilizing both the past and the cutting-edge of the present to further shape our future,” Christina divulged.

An icon in its own right, it looks as though Sunkist is adding a glowing index finger to its green thumb, securing itself both on the silver screen and the grocery list. 

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