Avocados receive image boost from Mexico's 200th birthday

Los Angeles' celebration of the Mexican Bicentennial was an ideal occasion for Avocados from Mexico (AFM), the brand name of Hass avocados produced in Michoacán, Mexico, to strengthen relationships with the city's large Hispanic population.

Client: Avocados from Mexico (Michoacán, Mexico)
PR agency: Lewis & Neale (Los Angeles)
Campaign: Mexican Bicentennial Celebration in Los Angeles
Duration: June-September 16, 2010
Budget: $70,000

Los Angeles' celebration of the Mexican Bicentennial was an ideal occasion for Avocados from Mexico (AFM), the brand name of Hass avocados produced in Michoacán, Mexico, to strengthen relationships with the city's large Hispanic population.

"AFM has only been available in California since 2007 due to trade restrictions," explains Emiliano Escobedo, marketing director of the Avocado Producer and Exporting Packers Association of Michoacán, which represents AFM. "The bicentennial was a perfect vehicle for us to position the brand among the Hispanic population as authentic and a product of heritage."

Longtime AOR Lewis & Neale (the food division of CRT/tanaka) helped devise and execute the campaign.

"We wanted to celebrate the community, give back, and look forward," notes Karen de Groot, account supervisor at the firm.

Strategy

AFM participated in the city's Mexican Independence Day Parade & Festival on September 12. Deeper community engagement was driven by a donation to White Memorial Medical Center to help fund healthy eating and lifestyle classes for children at risk of developing diabetes and by creating a "Faces of the Bicentennial" photo event on September 16, the official independence day.

A partnership with the Los Angeles Mexican Consulate helped promote all activities. Media relations, social media outreach, and the group's website, avocadosfrommexico.com, also drove awareness.

Tactics

AFM sponsored the parade's VIP area, gaining one-on-one access to numerous community leaders, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. AFM's president presented a $15,000 donation to White Memorial at the opening ceremony. Escobedo, who says this is AFM's first cause marketing effort, explains it's a good fit because diabetes is prevalent among Hispanics and the nutritional properties of avocados benefit diabetics.

Other event tactics included a branded float, recipes, and 15,000 avocados being given away at AFM's booth at the festival following the parade.

Mexicans and Mexican-Americans born on September 16, along with their families, were invited to sit for the "Faces of the Bicentennial" photo, shot by famous Mexican photographer Lourdes Almeida on September 16 at El Pueblo Historic Monument. The Mexican Consulate was key in garnering participation. The photo was unveiled that night at a consulate event.

The image was also promoted on AFM's website, Twitter and Facebook pages, and on flyers distributed by street teams. Par-ticipants submitted personal stories, which were used in media pitches and posted with the photo on Facebook.

Results

Escobedo reports California sales volume of avocados from Mexico rose from 2.6 million units in the week of August 28 to 3.1 million units the next week. It topped 3.3 million units the week of September 11.

"LA is the largest US market," he adds, "so increases were driven by the promotion there."

More than 245,000 attended the parade and festival. The photo unveiling drew about 500 attendees. AFM's Facebook fans increased from 1,474 in Septem- ber to 14,483 by February. The campaign garnered 212 million impressions in outlets including Univision, Telemundo, NBC, ABC, and El Universal.

Future

The team is working nationally to position avocados as a breakfast food. Additional cause marketing efforts are in the works.

PRWeek's View

The LA celebration was a perfect vehicle for Avocados from Mexico, which did well in maximizing exposure and establishing and deepening community relationships. Announcing the medi-cal center partnership at the opening ceremony was wise. The relationship should also prove beneficial in promoting avocados' health benefits and AFM's commitment to the US community. Creating the photo event and gathering written content was effective in terms of immediate community engagement. It will be interesting to see how much more buzz both can generate.

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