Snapple’s recent marketing efforts for their half tea, half lemonade diet beverage is criticized for being racist, rather than lauded for its comedic relief. The commercial’s aim was to stir up interest on which half of the beverage is the better: tea or lemonade. Instead, its portayal of the office workers supporting tea (East Indian) or lemonade (Asian) has stirred up controversy for being stereotypical. The lemonade supporter wears a yellow outfit and plays ping pong to support lemonade, while the tea supporter wears a jockey outfit and also plays ping pong to debate his point. The two sides end up wearing sumo outfits and battle on a wrestling mat to see who wins. See the commercial below.
This makes the overall commercial very confusing as it spends too much time debating which half is better, and only uses the remaining 5-10 seconds to tell the audience that neither half matters. At the same time, hashtags for #tea and #lemonade are shown to extend the debate through Twitter at hashout.snapple.com.
All this initial attention on tea or lemonade has muted the commercial’s overarching message. Neither half is more important than the other; it is the half lemonade PLUS half tea that gives the beverage the great taste consumers want. Extending the conversation to Twitter also appears to be a bad idea as users are encouraged to vote on which half is better. The debate may generate more buzz for the product, but it does not translate to sales. It also reinforces the message that one half is better than the other. In the end, this may lead users to believe that the Diet Half ‘n’ Half is really a Diet Two-Third ‘n’ One-Third, or a product that is not evenly mixed to provide a refreshing taste.
Based on the commercial alone, would you go on-line to join in on debate? Do you even care which half is better? Or do you ultimately prefer AriZona’s Arnold Palmer and would not bother trying this product?