Avocados From Mexico hires Weber Shandwick to raise its foodservice profile

Ketchum was Avocados From Mexico's previous foodservice advertising and PR AOR.

IRVING, TX: Avocados From Mexico has brought on Weber Shandwick as its foodservice advertising and PR AOR.

Weber started working with Avocados From Mexico, the marketing arm of Mexican Haas Avocado Importers Association and the Association of Growers and Packers of Avocados from Mexico, this month after it was selected in April following an RFP process that began in January. Three other firms pitched for the business, including incumbent Ketchum, Porter Novelli, and Sterling-Rice Group.

Weber is responsible for leading a comprehensive communications program to elevate Avocados From Mexico in the eyes of foodservice decision-makers as the only high-quality avocado available 365 days a year. Weber’s integrated campaign will include new advertising, paid media, earned media, social content, thought leadership, and strategic communications, said Susan Howe, president of the firm’s global consumer marketing practice.

The Interpublic Group firm will also help Avocados From Mexico with partner amplification and reaching foodservice decision-makers, including chefs, operators, and other food influencers, said Mark Garcia, director of foodservice marketing at Avocados From Mexico.

"Avocados are not a seasonal fruit, and a lot of chefs and operators are under the misguided sense that summer and fall are avocado time, but they can’t put avocados on the menu in January and February," said Garcia. "What we are trying to get across to our foodservice partners as well as the hotels and college and university crowds is: ‘You want avocados on your menu, we are your only source year-round.’"

He added that Avocados From Mexico imported about 2 billion pounds of the fruit into the U.S. over the past year. California, the second-biggest avocado supplier to the U.S. market, produced 300 million pounds during that time, Garcia added. Avocados From Mexico spent $18 million on ad spending in 2014, according to research firm Kantar Media.

"If you are a large operator like a Cheesecake Factory or Chili’s where they are moving significant volume or a McDonald’s or Subway, we are the only ones who can handle any kind of volume," he contended.  

Weber will also help Avocados From Mexico inspire foodservice operators and chefs with year-round menu ideas, Howe explained. The firm is also working on a foodservice advertising campaign that will launch in September, and the brand is planning a Super Bowl push and Cinco de Mayo effort, as well.

"They have been innovators in terms of developing digital partnerships and new campaigns," Howe said about Avocados From Mexico. "For us, this is really interesting because there is a lot of ground to cover. I like the way they have gone to market, so it will be fun for us to continue to innovate with them."

Michael Wehman, EVP of global client experience, is leading a team of a dozen staffers in Weber’s Chicago and San Francisco offices on the account.

"We liked the way [Weber] thought about our business and how we can reach out to the food service and chef community in unique and relevant ways," said Garcia, about why Avocados From Mexico chose the firm. "The size and scale of Weber was also a consideration for us. We wanted a nationwide understanding of our business because we are in retail, Hispanic markets, and the food service world and general markets."

Ketchum, the account’s incumbent, is continuing to work with Avocados From Mexico, leading its consumer PR efforts. Joseph Guarino, an SVP at Ketchum who runs the consumer PR work for Avocados From Mexico, declined to comment on the foodservice advertising and PR account.

In 2013, the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association and the Mexican Avocado Producers and Packers came together to launch Avocados From Mexico as a common brand for the country’s avocado industry.

Ketchum previously worked with the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association and started collaborating with Avocados From Mexico when it was formed in 2013.

Garcia explained that Avocados From Mexico decided to bring on a new PR firm because avocados are becoming a more common ingredient in the foodservice industry. He added that the brand needed to go in a different direction.

"It wasn’t anything Ketchum was doing wrong or any dissatisfaction; it’s just that our business needed to go to a different direction and Weber was more aligned with where our strategic goals are going forward," said Garcia.

Budget information was not disclosed.

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