Guac’n’Bowl: 5 Questions With Kevin Hamilton, Avocados From Mexico


Avocados From Mexico - Avocadoland

Avocados From Mexico - logoAvocados From Mexico—the Mexican growers’ co-op that was founded in 2013 to boost U.S. sales for the Mexican Hass Avocados Importers Association, MHAIA and The Association of Growers and Packers of Avocados From Mexico (APEAM)—is facing some unprecedented headwinds these days.

Challenges include the soaring price of avocados and competition from China. But on the marketing front, it’s full speed ahead on a strategy that has boosted sales and  awareness in recent years: to keep raising visibility and exposure of its product on the world’s single biggest marketing stage, the Super Bowl.

That’s why Avocados From Mexico will be back with its fourth consecutive Big Game TV campaign in February, once again planning to mix light humor with its message about avocados being the ultimate snack food via guacamole—as well as a more versatile fruit that deserves more love from foodies, health-conscious consumers and others.

Kevin Hamilton - Avocados From Mexico“This year hopefully [highlights] the versatility of the product and how [consumers] can enjoy it in new ways” beyond guacamole, Kevin Hamilton (right), senior director of brand marketing for Avocados From Mexico, told brandchannel. So expect a bit of a twist this year as Avocados From Mexico uses its ad buy during NBC’s telecast of Super Bowl LII on February 4 from Minneapolis to underscore the versatility of its product.

One way it’s been promoting fresh thinking around avocados is with content marketing and a branded online show — the Avocadoland series with Tastemade that launched in October and has been driving viewership with a sweepstakes contest and recipes.

In a nod to football fans, the recent “Penalty Flag” spot featured a referee steping out of a televised game into a living room to penalize a viewer for fumbling guac refills with the admonition, “No Guac, No Game!”

Avocado prices have risen dramatically in recent months in large part due to a late harvest in Mexico this year. That has made the crop even more valuable, subject to greater security measures.

“But what we have seen is that in proportion to some of the price fluctuations the avocado consumer is relatively price-inelastic,” Hamilton said. “It’s pretty well-known that we’re not the type of product that’s going to go 10 for a dollar. It’s not that sort of product. Also, shoppers know in the agricultural space sometimes you’re subject to things happening at the producer level.”

Hamilton shared more about Avocados From Mexico’s strategy heading into its fourth Big Game:

Kevin, why do you keep coming back to the Super Bowl?

Because it works. Our goal is to reach as many eyes and ears as possible to tell what we think is a pretty positive story all the way around, about the brand and the category. And with the multitude and proliferation of marketing comps and stimuli for consumers out there, the property, content and platforms that can hold attention are very valuable.

The Super Bowl continues to be a platform that no other platform can rival, not only with the attention it gets domestically and around the world but the type of attention. Consumers look forward to the commercials as much as the content.

So you’re not concerned about any brand challenges facing the NFL having a halo effect on your brand?

Not particularly. We’re focused on our objective of telling our story. Our message isn’t necessarily connected to any given property that we attach ourselves to. We think we’re a good product for athletes but not particularly an NFL type of property. This is an NBC partnership in this case. The fact is, it’s still a great property. It looks like they’re doing the best they can.

What’s your focus in 2018?

We are looking forward to executing our PR plan and some fun teaser releases soon. The style, the tone that matches our brand essence around meaningful good times, and Avocados From Mexico being the center of that, is going to stick around. It’s worked for us. It matches who we are and who we want to be.

Creatively one of the things we’re going to focus on this year is delivering not only an awareness type of approach but also a secondary message along the lines of versatility. One of our brand goals is to communicate to people that this is [a versatile product]. Consumers’ uses so far aren’t really that wide. We want to reposition guacamole in a different way.

The first year (of Super Bowl advertising, in 2015) we wanted to introduce Avocados From Mexico and that people haven’t known they were enjoying a product from its original birthplace.

The second year, it was about enjoying avocados that can be produced year-round.

And this year’s Super Bowl, with some of the things in terms of regulations at the USDA and FDA, we had more latitude to talk about a health and wellness message and we talked about the healthy-fat component as well.

Speaking of that, how are you looking to increase consumption beyond guacamole, and also increase participation in the (roughly) 50% of U.S. consumers who don’t buy avocados already?

We’re focused on four core uses. Guacamole; hand-held such as tacos and burritos; salads; and plain uses such as salt and pepper on it scooped right out of the shell, such as for breakfast. Particularly in the food service space we’re focused on the hand-held component. We’ve seen increases in that, partnering with other brands that may be involved in hand-held foods.

As for the half of consumers that have been purchasing, there’s still a lot of runway there in terms of frequency of use and purchase. But there are other things you can do with the other half. Think about using popular opportunities in culture to introduce the product. We’re formulating a new strategy and approach for Cinco de Mayo, for example, such as recipes.

While your focus is Avocados From Mexico, are you concerned about global competitors such as China, which is growing and promoting its own avocados?

We’re not worried at all. For the U.S. market, which is all this organization is focused on, we represent 80% of the market and the way we see it, the more the merrier. So many people still need to be introduced to the product. The more who are aware and are participating, it’s good for everyone. We want to see the category grow. It’s not just about Avocados From Mexico. When the whole category grows, clearly we’re going to grow.

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