Lindsay Stein
Apr 22, 2020

Dole Packaged Foods' global CMO on leveraging 'superpowers' amid COVID-19

Rupen Desai discusses the company's new initiative, his learnings during the pandemic and more.

Dole Packaged Foods' global CMO on leveraging 'superpowers' amid COVID-19

As the world continues to wade through the murky waters of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses are looking at how their products and services can provide the most assistance—from supporting healthcare workers to feeding the hungry and more.

Last week, Dole Packaged Foods—known for its fruit cups and juices—launched an initiative to supply those in need, including children, the elderly and medical professionals. The effort, dubbed "Sunshine For All," is asking all companies around the globe to join its mission.

To kick off the initiative, Dole released a spot that thanks frontline workers and honors them as superheroes, even though the masks they’re wearing are different from those in comic books.

Some of Dole’s Sunshine For All efforts include: Delivering fruit cups to healthcare workers in hospitals France, Spain, New Zealand, the Philippines, Japan; Singapore, Canada, Thailand, Vietnam, India and Korea; partnering with food banks in the U.K. to deliver fruit cups to the elderly; teaming with Lyft to provide underserved senior citizens in Seattle and Chicago with food; and much more.

Campaign US caught up with Rupen Desai, global CMO of Dole Packaged Foods, to hear more about the recent initiative, as well as his insights on the COVID-19 pandemic and advice for the industry.

How have your marketing efforts shifted in recent weeks due to the pandemic?

Over the last few months, we have been working on the launch of our global purpose, Sunshine For All. Our purpose is committed to reducing the gaps to healthy, wholesome nutrition, one act at a time.

With the pandemic, we needed to pivot the speed at which we act. We realized that our partnerships are crucial to help provide increased access to nutrition, particularly amongst those that need it the most.

What's your main marketing goal right now for Dole?

To be purposeful, to be helpful, to be of utility and act according to our shared values. This means that those that need nutrition the most, have access to it, without barriers. This is an opportunity to reevaluate the idea of purpose. We can all, together, go beyond being just belief driven, to being Purposeful. This is also in line with the Japanese beliefs of Sampo Yoshi, our driving blueprint.

Tell me about the recent initiative you launched to help those in need.

Last week, we launched, paired with an invitation spot called Superheroes, honoring essential frontline workers.

It is calling on others to join Dole’s mission to make Sunshine For All a reality, along with our other partners (World Central Kitchen, Lyft, Feeding America, The Red Cross in Thailand and Korea, Meals on Wheels in Japan and more, to come).

Together, we can deliver nutrition and support to those who need it. It’s a global effort, and we are acting, with partners in over 15 countries helping frontline staff, the elderly and families in underserved communities. And we connect with more partners on a daily basis to further our reach.

Rupen Desai

Are you working with any agency partners on the effort? 

We worked with Campbell Ewald, Golin, HQ and Spark Publicis on this program. They have been incredibly dedicated in helping us get here. The current context means everyone has been working remotely and has put in incredible effort.

What have you learned personally and professionally throughout this last month of social distancing?

The opportunity to combine superpowers. At Dole, our superpower is the nutrition from the humble fruits.

By combining this with superpowers of our partners—such as Lyft and the last mile delivery, Smoothie King and the opportunity to bring smoothies to health care workers—we can begin to make a meaningful difference.  

We are, also, learning about the amazing force of energy that being purposeful generates, with our own teams. There is no job description that could have been crafted to do justice to their tireless energy in ensuring good nutrition reaches those that need it most.

At a personal level this time has also allowed me to reconnect with friends, loved ones and distant family—funny how it took a pandemic for this to happen.

Do you think marketing and advertising will change forever at Dole following COVID-19? If yes, how so?

I can only hope it does so. The reality is that the old normal is the probable reason we have a new normal.

Whether it is the role brands play for health, nutrition, the planet, communities and society, or how we adapt to changing needs of the world will need to change, for sure.

What advice do you have for other marketing leaders right now?

That’s a tall order, from an accidental marketer. Advice... I have none. 

I can, however, share the feeling that all of us at Dole have, which is to be purposeful, to be of use and utility, of value, generosity and kindness.

Campaign US

Related Articles

Just Published

12 hours ago

Agency Report Cards 2023: We grade 31 APAC networks

Campaign Asia-Pacific presents its 21st annual evaluation of APAC agency networks based on their 2023 business performance, innovation, creative output, awards, action on DEI and sustainability, and leadership.

13 hours ago

OpenAI inks multi-year content deal with News Corp

The five-year agreement comes as Microsoft, OpenAI, and Google face intense scrutiny over training AI models on copyrighted content usage without consent.

13 hours ago

Agency Report Card 2023: Initiative

Losing long-term client Carlsberg is a blow for the agency, and Initiative has tried to mitigate the losses with solid employee initiatives.

13 hours ago

Global indie media rankings: PMG and Cossette lead ...

Big single wins for Australia's Nunn Media and Howatson+Co helped them place 3rd and 11th respectively.