Shares of Tupperware plunged 42%. Whoops… looks like we may lose the Tupperware “burp.”

Mid-century Tupperware ad.
Mid-century Tupperware ad.

“I’ve had a lot of plastic surgery. When I die, they’re returning my body to Tupperware.”
Joan Rivers

I recently read an article on MarketWatch that noted, “…the maker of food storage products missed third-quarter earnings expectations, warned it may go out of business, and conceded that some of its problems are of its own making.” The article brought back a memory or two.

Growing up in Kansas, I knew very little about Tupperware other than it was some kind of food storage container. My mother never owned a piece. I remember several of her friends phoning and inviting her to their next “Tupperware Party.” She always declined—politely—and hung up the phone as she shook her head in disapproval.

My dad asked her why she wouldn’t go to the parties, and her explanation was firm, “The Avon lady comes to me, brings samples, and if I want something, I’ll order it—and she’ll deliver it. Same with the Fuller Brush man. Those ‘parties’ are set up to make you feel cheap if you don’t buy something.”

After I read the MarketWatch piece, I dug around a little and found this Tupperware marketing video. It’s pretty cool in a retro sort of way.

I’d suggest that Tupperware’s problems go back to 2015 or earlier.

In July of the year, MarketWatch‘s Kathleen Burke wrote, “Indonesia has been Tupperware’s biggest market for several years, but the company has not been able to sustain its growth. The sales force began to contract in the first quarter, while promotional offers were poorly received, according to the company’s earnings release.”

Tupperware Chief Executive Rick Goings told investors on a conference call that the focus on quality rather than quantity was to blame.”

Yup. Focusing on quality over quantity? Who could imagine such folly?

Now, that’s a party. Burp those bowls.

By Stephen Brockelman

As a Sr. Writer at T. Rowe Price, I work with a group of the best copywriters around. We belong to the broader creative team within Enterprise Creative, a part of Corporate Marketing Services. _____________________________________________ A long and winding road: My path to T. Rowe Price was more twisted than Fidelity’s green line. With scholarship in hand, I left Kansas at 18 to study theatre in New York. When my soap opera paychecks stopped coming from CBS and started coming from the show’s sponsor, Proctor & Gamble, I discovered the power of advertising and switched careers. Over the years I’ve owned an ad agency in San Francisco; worked for Norman Lear on All in the Family, Good Times, Sanford and Son, and the rest of his hit shows; and as a member of Directors Guild of America, I directed Desi Arnaz in his last television appearance— we remained friends until his death. In 1988 I began freelancing full time didn’t look back. In January 2012 my rep at Boss Group called and said, “I know you don’t want to commute and writing for the financial industry isn’t high on your wish list, but I have a gig with T. Rowe Price in Owings Mills…” I was a contractor for eight months, drank the corporate Kool-Aid, became a TRP associate that August, and today I find myself smiling more often than not.

1 comment

  1. Well, the beginning of that video is rather erotic, don’t you think? The music reminds me of the movies about giant irradiated insects that were popular with me after school – Twilight Theater. But really, why would anyone want to know how Polyethylene is made before they buy a bowl with a lid? Where did you find this? It’s so great. The only chance for Tupperware is the grocery store, or maybe Wm Sonoma if Tupperware makes an Alicia Keyes line of gold models – polished by hand.

    Thanks for sharing!

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