An Inside Look At New Florida Citrus Brand

Legend Of Sun Lion Art

One of the hot trends in fresh produce is aiming marketing campaigns at children. Think California Cuties and the success this EZ-peel mandarin has achieved in marketing to kids.

Two well-known Florida growers are following this tenet, recently announcing a new company aimed at branding tangerines to capture the attention of young consumers. And, for conservation-minded folks, part of the company’s profits will go toward Florida panther preservation.

Vic Story and Marty McKenna are the growers behind the launch of the “Legend of Sun Lion” Florida tangerines brand for the 2012-2013 season. Story was the 2012 Florida Grower Citrus Achievement Award winner. The brand is woven around the tale of the Sun Lion, a Florida panther kitten who serves as the product’s mascot. The Sunshine Story LLC is the company created to market the brand.
“No offense to clementines or Cuties or any other products on the market, but Florida growers produce the tastiest tangerines in the world,” says Story. “We really have a great product grown here in Florida, so we are going to celebrate it.
“You look at the average tangerine that has only about 50 calories and comes with vitamin C, calcium, and fiber. The average cookie has 90 calories. When mothers can give their child something wholesome and healthy as a substitute, we feel good about growing that option for them.”

Follow The Story

To capture the imagination of young consumers, the Legend of Sun Lion brand also will have a storyline told in an illustrated book and carried in all branding efforts. The Sun Lion is the star of this tale. The young panther is the guardian of the “Tangible,” a citrus tree which brings all light and life to the land. The tree bares citrus fruit that contains a powerful energy called “Shine.” The Sun Lion can unlock the power of the Shine, a force it will need to fend off wild hogs called “Night Boars.”

The creative mind behind the story and co-founder of the company is David Gornoski. As a fourth-generation Floridian, he says the Sun Lion story will celebrate the state’s heritage.
“Florida culture is important,” says Gornoski. “So many people who visit Florida ask where the culture is. It’s here. You just have to know where to look.
“I use the tale to illustrate the great stories and romance in Florida’s cultural legacy. Legend of Sun Lion is about celebrating our culture and sharing it with a new generation. We think having an entertainment experience you can taste, smell, and touch is a great way to share stories and values that are important to us.”
Gornoski is working with a Florida literary author to develop concepts for the Sun Lion story. It will be an ongoing legend with no specific end. “We also want kids to use their imagination to create their own Sun Lion stories and ideas,” he says.

Building A Brand

“When I started studying the fresh produce industry, I noticed a lack of serious consumer branding,” says Gornoski. “My experience in entertainment made me familiar with the film and game industry, which helped to create an entertainment character and story that is intuitively tied into a fresh fruit. So much of consumer branding for kids is found in the cereal and candy aisle. Why not create a character with real-life significance that will encourage kids to eat fresh locally grown Florida citrus?”
In addition to the storyline, illustrated posters and point-of-sale pieces are being developed to help promote the brand. Packaging also will extend the storyline. “Our plan is to focus on retail chains and specialty stores that have a Florida presence,” says Gornoski. “This should allow us to grow a local following in state.”

Conservation Minded

Another unique approach the company founders believe will make their brand stand out is their commitment to donate 10% of net profits to the Wildlife Foundation of Florida’s panther fund. It directly funds scientific field research and the recovery of injured and orphaned panthers.
“We believe helping Florida panthers adds a lot to the brand,” says Story. “Families will not only feel good about buying a product from Florida citrus growers, but also about helping to preserve and protect an animal that is an icon for our state.”

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