Sweet Tooth
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A brand of raisins.

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When Sex Shouldn't Sell

  • Dec 4, 2009
  • by
As I was skimming through my Yahoo! headline news today, I came across an article that struck a nerve. Really, deeply struck a nerve. Like nails on a chalkboard; hitting your funny bone off the corner of a table. I’m so disturbed and outraged that I want to drive to Sun-Maid headquarters and give them a piece of my mind. But since this is not possible, I’m taking it to the cyberwaves. Let me ask you. What is wrong with this picture?

Nothing you say. Well no kidding. This, my friends, is the Sun-Maid ‘girl’ – the ‘face’ of a brand that has clearly stood the test of time. It’s iconic, memorable… and even more importantly, this image is instilled in our hearts and minds. Yet Sun-Maid felt it necessary to replace this beautiful, original and REAL Sun-Maid girl with a buxom, Barbie-like computer animation. Just take a look:

So she is pretty. Who gives a flying duck? Really. I don’t know who they have heading up their marketing and advertising efforts, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that their target markets don’t give a hoot about big breasts and a youthful glow. We’re talking about moms buying raisins for their toddlers, bakers picking up a box to make their oatmeal cookies extra good and seniors looking to get on the ‘move’ (if you know what I mean). In no way do any of these groups care about Raisinonia. They care about the original, innocent Sun-Maid Princess. Her name, by the way, was Lorraine Collett Peterse.
The company says the move was made to bring the product more current; to represent healthy lifestyles. Huh? How many people do you see at Gold’s Gym munching on a box of raisins? WTF Sun-Maid. What are you thinking? And more importantly, who are you thinking about? Certainly not your customers. Must be a 30-year-old jock at the helm of your advertising efforts.
What’s your take? Advertising brilliance or complete stupidity? You know where I stand.

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August 17, 2011
I don't see where the new one would be called "sexy" - she doesn't have on lingerie or anything like that, she just looks a little more modern. And companies will never leave well enough alone, ever---so we may as well get used to it. I really don't see where this is in extreme bad taste.
April 06, 2011
I'm all in favor of sex-sells advertising. Call me "such a pig." I am. Now all I need to do is get some enterprising young ad firm to feature the Sun-Maid "raisin maiden" in a tryst with the Morton Salt Girl, and I'll be a happy man.
January 07, 2011
Maybe the marketing department figures that if they throw away a brand that's built up value over time and thus making work for themselves they can justify a larger budget.
March 12, 2010
Great review. I enjoy analyzing pop culture icons as well as commercials. I think the new version of Lorraine, although buxom, looks more ethnic than the original image.
March 07, 2010
I agree. I don't know why they did this. Does Sun-Maid really think that they will sell more raisins just because their "mascot" looks like a brunette Julia Roberts? I have noticed that on some of the commericals, they've cut the part out where they show this new Sun-Maid girl up-close. It seems as though Sun-Maid picked up on all of the heat that this move generated. Great review of a poor marketing choice.
December 22, 2009
Personally, I dislike all commercial art because of the way it limits the social perspective of all forms of art.
However, I prefer the older image just based upon my own aesthetic. The new one seems plastic-y, fake, and sends out a message to girls that they need to conform to this propagated image of the feminine ideal as being a voluptuous, perpetually happy, and subservient woman. Certainly, this new "Sun-Maid" is un-PC, but they probably wouldn't be able to sell many raisins with Rosie the Riveter. However, I would applaud any company that tried to do so, if for no other reason than as a feminist, it would be rather refreshing to see feminine strength and independence emphasized instead of beauty or sexual allure.
December 09, 2009
Great review. Love the passion. I'm not sure why they thought MELONS could sell RAISINS. :)
December 10, 2009
HA HA HA! I should have thought of that one.. Thanks for the shout out!
December 08, 2009
Great review! I totally agree with you, Must we have "hip" raisins now? Frankly there is nothing sexy about raisins nor should we pretend there is. I just don't get the current disdain for the tried and true. Your 30 year old ad guy should be ashamed of himself.
December 08, 2009
Wow, agreed.  I had no idea that these changes were made.  The old sun maid is beautiful as is.  I give kudos to classic products that still hold on to their classic logos, like Tabasco and Queen Helene.  Thanks for sharing, Crystal!
December 05, 2009
I TOTALLY agree with you. I loved the old Sun Maid! I was even thinking about being her for Halloween this year! :)
About the reviewer
Crystal Williams ()
Hi! My name is Crystal, and I have multiple personalities. No. I don't have a disorder. I just know how to apply myself in any given situation, love variety and not afaid to go after what Iwant (even … more
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About this food


Sun-Maid Growers of California is a cooperative of raisin growers headquartered in Kingsburg, California. It was founded in 1912 as the California Associated Raisin Company. As a cooperative, Sun-Maid is owned by family farmers who grow raisin grapes all located within 100 miles (200 km) of each other in the Central Valley of California, midway between Los Angeles to the south and San Francisco to the north.

Once raisins were established as a marketable crop which grew and dried well under the California sun, raisin grape area expanded rapidly in the late 1800s. The earliest efforts to form a successful cooperative business to be owned by raisin growers started in 1898. But the cooperative did not become a reality until 1912 when the entire community supported the establishment of the California Associated Raisin Company. In 1915, the brand name SUN-MAID was launched, and within a year, executives of the company discovered a local girl, Lorraine Collett Petersen, a seed planter and picker from Fresno, California whose smiling face, red sunbonnet, and tray of fresh grapes would become synonymous with sun-dried California raisins.

By 1918, facilities had become inadequate for the rapidly growing enterprise. The company opened a new facility near downtown Fresno, which was recognized at the time as the "finest factory building west of Detroit."

In 1964, further modernization of processes and growth of the cooperative lead to the construction of, and move to, a new ...
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