In 1980, three jazz musicians in Santa Cruz, Calif. started selling juices and smoothies out of the back of their Volkswagen van. Now, nearly four decades later, Odwalla has evolved into a pioneering, purpose-driven brand, earning a loyal following for its artful blends of great-tasting fruits and veggies, funky ingredients and surprising twists.
Odwalla is celebrating its grassroots beginnings with the launch of its nationwide Road to Our Roots tour, featuring an immersive VW van experience offering new and existing fans a glimpse into the brand’s past, present and future.
The coast-to-coast trek will stop in major cities through October (see full schedule below). A diverse group of Odwalla ambassadors and partner brands will join the journey, including health and wellness expert Jessie Pavelka, style blogger Color Me Courtney, photographer and artist Nico Guilis, and fashion-forward commuter bike bicycle company Solé Bicycles.
Odwalla hosted a tour kickoff event on Aug. 16 at The Park in New York City, where invited guests explored the revamped VW van, which features everything from a fully-stocked kitchen to a relaxing living room space nestled among Odwalla-themed décor, and enjoyed Odwalla-inspired bites and cocktails.
We caught up with Odwalla Brand Director Sara Smith to get the scoop on the tour and what’s next:
Why a VW tour, and why now?
It’s rare to find a brand with such a strong, rich history to tell. We didn’t have to create it ourselves; the Odwalla story was already written, and we saw an opportunity to leverage our roots in a relevant way with consumers across the country. What better way to do that than to start where the brand originated? A grassroots VW van tour focused on telling our story and putting samples in the hands of as many consumers as possible.
Where is the tour going?
Kicking off in New York, Odwalla’s Road to Our Roots tour will make a number of stops in key markets that share similar passion points with the brand – health and wellness, food and nutrition, art, music, culture, and community. Once it leaves New York, the Odwalla van will host additional Road to Our Roots events in Portland, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
How did you select the brand ambassadors to accompany the tour?
Very thoughtfully. Our core consumers have a balanced approach to health and wellness – they are looking to squeeze more flavor, more function and more fulfillment out of life. So in choosing the ambassadors, we wanted that well-rounded approach. They also needed a degree of authenticity and realness about them. These ambassadors share some of our key passion points while embracing our commitment to community and giving back.
What does Odwalla stand for?
Odwalla, at its core, is about delivering great-tasting, on-the-go nutrition. While functional nutrition is a primary reason for purchase in the premium juice category, Odwalla’s rich history and unique personality give it license to truly differentiate from competition in an ownable way.
How is Odwalla unique, and why is the brand well positioned to capitalize on current trends?
Odwalla is a master mixologist. We purposefully source high-quality fruits and vegetables along with unique ingredients to artfully blend flavor with function. It’s at the heart of who we are and what we do.
Consumers are busier and more programmed than ever, and they are increasingly drinking beverages for on-the-go nutrition. Amidst the chaos of every day life, Odwalla is a brand they can trust to deliver those functional benefits without comprising on taste and convenience.
What’s ahead for the brand?
The VW van tour sets us up for some great news to share next year. We hope to refamiliarize consumers with our roots, generate excitement and buzz through our new ambassadors and ignite the brand for future growth.
Odwalla’s Road to Our Roots Tour Schedule
- New York, NY: August 16-18
- Portland, OR: August 23-26
- Seattle, WA: August 28-September 8
- San Diego, CA: September 12-16
- San Francisco, CA: September 19-23, October 12-14
- Los Angeles, CA: September 25-October 7
- Atlanta, GA: October 23-28