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A juicy story: citrus growers entice America to drink up

The television commercial opens with a family out in their open boat for a day's fishing. The mother pours a large glass of orange juice from a pitcher for her small son while an announcer off-camera asks, ''Isn't that Florida orange juice?''

Then, as the youngster taps his head with his forefinger in a universally understood gesture symbolizing intelligence, unseen singers chant the pert reply:

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''Orange you smart - for drinking orange juice!''

The jingle continues as other family members drink up, and the commercial concludes with the Florida Orange Growers' logo.

The commercial is one of a battery of 30-second spots prepared by Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, a major New York advertising agency, for the Florida Department of Citrus. This campaign is variously described as ''sassy but successful,'' ''impertinent but memorable,'' or ''so awful it's funny.'' In any case, it's part of the continuing drive to remind viewers of the thirst-quenching benefits of Florida orange juice.

Florida's citrus industry is second only to tourism in terms of dollar volume , so it's not surprising that state government works closely with growers to promote the fruit. The Department of Citrus was created in 1935 to administer merchandising and marketing programs for the citrus growers. Unlike many voluntary trade associations, it is funded by a sliding-scale assessment levied against each box of citrus a grower ships. This gives it a stable and dependable source of income. At the same time, the 12-member Florida Citrus Commission was formed to act as a kind of board of directors.

The progress made since these two bodies first began to function is impressive. Real estate development has encroached upon Florida's orange groves in some places, but growers have managed to triple their acreage to its present level of around 600,000 acres.

Meanwhile, the production of Florida oranges has increased more than tenfold - by a dramatic 1,000 percent - to over 200 million boxes shipped in the bumper 1979-80 season. Damaging freezes in the next two seasons cut the production of oranges nearly in half. But production in this freeze-free 1982-83 season is expected to be back up again to nearly 150 million boxes shipped.

The origin of the orange is lost in antiquity. On his second voyage to the New World, Columbus brought seeds with him for planting groves in the Caribbean. Ponce de Leon is thought to have introduced the orange to Florida in 1539.

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Somewhere along the line, California became the leading orange-producing state, which it remained until the end of World War II, when frozen concentrate was introduced. This improved method of processing orange juice was a boon for Florida citrus growers. About the same time, much of California's best orange-producing acreage succumbed to developers' bulldozers.

Today, two of central Florida's most prolific orange-producing counties - Lake and Polk - each outproduce California, Arizona, and Texas combined. Florida, in fact, now produces about 70 percent of the oranges raised for domesic consumption and about a quarter of all the oranges grown anywhere in the world.

Florida takes pride in the fact that it bases its box weight for oranges on 90 pounds of fruit, compared with 85 pounds to the box for Texas fruit and 75 pounds a box for California and Arizona. The heavier the fruit, the juicier it is.

In a good season, the value of Florida's citrus crop can exceed $1 billion. It is expected to reach close to that amount again this year. In turn, it is estimated that the citrus industry in Florida supports a payroll of over $250 million a year. Markets must be found for all this citrus, especially for processed orange juice, which makes up close to 90 percent of the dollar value of all that Florida ships.

And that, of course, is the primary purpose of the Department of Citrus. Nearly all of its annual budget is devoted to marketing and publicity activities associated with the promotion of fresh and processed citrus. The Department of Citrus has over 50 highly skilled merchandising representatives in principal marketing locations across the country and in Canada.

Marketing progress for Florida citrus can be measured by some of the more noteworthy results. With ad campaigns urging them on, Americans have nearly doubled their overall consumption of processed orange juice over the past decade , according to a Citrus Department spokesman. During this same time frame, studies show that fewer people are thinking of coffee and milk as breakfast beverages.

The Citrus Department advertises mostly over national TV, with a portion of its budget going into the Canadian market. Ironically, Los Angeles, despite its own citrus industry, is the No. 3 market for Florida citrus advertising efforts. New York and Chicago are in first and second place, respectively.

The budget for this national TV drive is pegged at around 6 million this year , or well over half of the annual promotion budget for the Department of Citrus.

The advertising has taken a new direction since Dancer Fitzgerald Sample was awarded the account back in 1972. Its first major campaign was ''Breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine,'' with Anita Bryant as spokeswoman. The aim of that campaign was to firmly anchor the breakfast franchise for the Florida Orange Growers.

But there is only so far you can go with the breakfast market once you have a hefty chunk of it. So the agency created another campaign: ''Orange juice from Florida - it isn't just for breakfast any more.'' This campaign featured a group of celebrities, including Arthur Fiedler, Evonne Goolagong, Arnold Palmer, and Nancy Lopez.

The ''Orange you smart'' campaign followed, and is now in its second season of reminding consumers not to forget their orange juice. The ads promise flavor and nutrition, and are designed to emphasize the thought that orange juice is good any time. Of the three TV spots currently being aired, one takes place in a boat, as described above, another takes place in a busy newsroom, and only one takes place in a home setting that could be construed as a breakfast scene.

Sound marketing principles suggest it's a good idea to broaden your field and look for new markets once you have the major portion of a particular market locked up, as orange juice has the breakfast market.

Hey, Florida - ''orange you smart'' to remind consumers that orange juice makes an intelligent thirst quencher any old time?

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