Earlier this month, cylinder-shaped packages containing posters depicting a solar eclipse arrived at the desks of several journalists. In the illustration, the black disk of the moon obscures most of the sun, leaving a curved slice of sunlight shining against the darkness. There, smack in the middle of the yellow crescent, is a familiar blue sticker usually worn by grocery-store produce.
Chiquita had turned the upcoming eclipse into an ad for bananas.
It was only a matter of time. Brands love building marketing campaigns around significant events with huge reach, from surprise Super Bowl blackouts to exasperating presidential elections. Next week’s solar eclipse certainly fits that definition. Tens of millions of people across the United States are expected to look skyward as the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, coating parts of the country in total darkness. Hotels and campgrounds have been booked for months, special eclipse glasses are selling fast, and people are preparing for watch parties up and down the path of totality, from Oregon to South Carolina. There’s all kinds of eclipse merchandise. Actor Steve Martin nicely summed up the hype this way:
The advertising agency behind Chiquita’s campaign said the idea stemmed from a brainstorming session about banana-shaped objects. An eclipse at first seemed “so weird and unexpected” but then “made an insane amount of sense.” “Oh, it’s a giant glowing banana in the sky,” the team said of their moment of realization. Other brands, from tech giants to cruise lines, have also hopped on the sun’s publicity bandwagon. Some of the results are funny. Some are groan-worthy. All are, mercifully, just as fleeting as the eclipse itself.