My Pitch to Chiquita Bananas.

Thank you, ladies, gentleman. Okay….Chiquita vs. Dole?

People…. c’mon, this is the “to-may-to’s” taking on the “to-mah-to’s” … except it’s bananas.  There’s no difference here. And forget about using that tired old “loaded with potassium” crap. People don’t care. Chiquita needs a messaging platform people care about. One that gives Chiquita a point of difference.

So … check this out:

“Chiquita Tarantula-Free Bananas.”

Now if you can just  hold your applause till the end of my presentation…let’s just jump into it, shall we? Tarantula-free is, in fact, a strong position. So strong it even lets us toss in that boring potassium message.

“All The Potassium. None of the Tarantulas.”

It holds together, which isn’t surprising really. We’re simply leveraging that consumer truth we’ve all heard, those stories about tarantulas hiding in banana bunches. One web site says, “… when bananas were transported as large bunches, tarantulas were accidentally imported. Now that bananas are shipped in small bunches, encounters are more rare.”

“Encounters are more rare”? Did anyone tell John Q. Public they’re more rare?  I sure didn’t.

So, perhaps we start off our campaign by going online into all the banana chat rooms and wondering aloud….“So, if Dole bananas ever seem to cost less, will anybody stop to think maybe it’s because DOLE IS STILL SHIPPIN’ BANANAS  IN BIG-ASS  TARANTULA-ENGORGED  BUNCHES????”

And just before we log off from the chat rooms, we’ll post this baby.

Ouch, another point for Chiquita. You know what else we could do? We’ll create this adorable little spokes-arachnid thingie, named “Harry” Tarantula, okay? And he’s all sad ☹ and homeless because he can’t live in Chiquita bananas anymore now that they kicked him out.

We could also follow up with a Chiquita app. We’ll call it “Hey Mr. Tally Man, Tally Me Tarantulas.” Just point an iPhone at a bunch of Dole bananas and it tells the shopper the estimated number of tarantulas she can expect to join her at dinner.

Meanwhile, over at the Chiquita display, there’s a computer chip playin’ a new version of that old song “Yes, We Have No Tarantulas.”

Chiquita people, I’m telling you, the tarantula angle is just lyin’ there, unused. Let’s get in front of this story, people. Thanks for listening. Feel free to email me at this address. We’ll bang out the compensation agreement and get goin’.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

You know, I’m half-serious here folks. If this idea didn’t skeeve out Chiquita’s main banana-buying customer (which I’m guessing that includes a lot of women) I’d say this campaign is actually a pretty interesting idea. Unfortunately, it makes the cardinal mistake of pairing gross imagery with food. But dammit, … if it didn’t … it woulda been cool, okay?

Some great ideas can often look kinda stupid from the curb. But over the years, I’ve found that any idea that makes you ask, “We couldn’t do this, could we?” is oftentimes a pretty good idea. Another good question to ask is, “Will people talk about this idea if we do it?”

Alex Bogusky once said, “If you’re about to spend advertising dollars on a campaign and you can’t imagine that anybody is going to write about it or talk about it, you might want to rethink it.”

(Although, I’m pretty sure when Alex said it, he wasn’t thinking about a campaign as stupid as “Tarantula-Free Bananas.”)


  1. yes. Really, yes. Y E S.

  2. Also, while you’re at it, you might as well pitch “Finger-free Chili” by one of Wendy’s competitors.

    Awesome post, keep up the laughs!

  3. “If what you say can’t be different, let the difference be in how you say it.”

    This is a wise quote, but sometimes brand planners think it’s there job to dig and dig and dig until they find that one differentiating aspect of their brand they can build a campaign around. Sometimes their pride won’t let them accept the fact that they’re working with a “me too” product.

    Say you’re doing a campaign for Coke. You can’t say your product is refreshing, because Pepsi can say that too.

    You can’t say it tastes great, because Pepsi can say that too.

    So finally the brand manager comes up with something Pepsi can’t say. Coke is headquartered in Atlanta.

    Congrats, you found a differentiator, but unfortunately the consumer doesn’t give a shit about where Coke is headquartered, and the campaign doesn’t resonate with consumers.

    • Dude, I agree. I think the whole industry has been in overthink mode since the ’60s.

  4. I actually really like this approach to a campaign. And by approach I mean “say something completely ridiculous that has nothing to do with the product itself… but with a hint of factual research behind it… enough to make people look it up.”

    It’s funny. It’s also, ironically, very product oriented. (It wouldn’t be all that funny if you took some random absurd thing and slapped the product in at the end.) Of COURSE the lack of tarantulas aren’t REALLY a unique selling point… but tarantulas really do hide in banana bunches.

    The only problem with this idea in particular, as you pointed out, is the gross out factor. I’d do anything to avoid thinking about spiders, especially big hairy ones. I might just stop buying bananas all together.

    • I swear….if I could jsut figure out how to get rid of the gross out factor, it’s a really cool idea. Dang it.

  5. Man, I wish Chiquita would run your campaign. Could be so much fun.
    In the meantime, I’ll still choose them for the better label.

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Luke Sullivan

Author, speaker, and ad veteran available to recharge, reinvigorate, and refocus marketing, advertising, and branding firms.

I give a hugely energetic series of presentations on innovation, creativity, branding, and marketing. I spent 32 years in the trenches of advertising (at agencies like Martin, GSD&M, and Fallon) and I’ve put everything I learned into my book, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. But for me nothing beats taking the message out and speaking to living breathing audiences at clients, agencies, and conferences. You can book me on the button below.