Avocados become Super Bowl staple
BY J.M. HIRSCH Associated Press
Friday, February 01, 2013
2/01/13 at 4:57 AM
Imagine for a moment a Super Bowl without the avocado.
If that's hard to picture, it's because the avocado has so completely - and so quickly - attached itself to this utterly unrelated sporting event.
As recently as 13 years ago, the avocado wasn't the football juggernaut it is today. It has been a relentless and cunning campaign to victory, achieved in part through marketing muscle.
At the turn of this century, Americans ate a mere 8 million pounds of avocados during Super Bowl festivities. In 2002, the Hass Avocado Board was formed to promote the dominant avocado variety sold in the U.S., and today, Americans are expected to consume 79 million pounds of avocados around the championship game. That's roughly 158 million avocados.
"They are outstanding marketers. We can all learn something from them," Kathy Means, vice president of government affairs for the Produce Marketing Association, says of avocado marketing groups. "It's part of the Super Bowl culture. It's not just associated with it; it's ingrained in it."
It helps that the Super Bowl has morphed from athletic event to all-out national party.
"It was a way to get the season going and get the product on the shelf," says Emiliano Escobedo, executive director of the Hass Avocado Board. "Super Bowl is the ideal time. It is the largest party day in the U.S. after New Year's Eve and Halloween. And I like to say avocado people are party people."
Escobedo says the industry first had to persuade grocery stores to stock lots of avocados around the big game.
Only after grocery stores were on board did consumer outreach get serious, meaning sweepstakes, recipe contests, promotions at tailgating parties, sports television partnerships and athlete endorsements, social media and signing on of celebrity chefs like Tyler Florence and Curtis Stone to talk up the deliciousness of the fruit.
All told, the avocado industry spends about $37 million a year on marketing and promotion.
Original Print Headline: Avocados become Super Bowl staple
California-grown avocados are displayed at a market in Mountain View, Calif. PAUL SAKUMA/Associated Press file