SAN FRANCISCO — BrandStorm attendees who stayed for the final education session Feb. 22 heard an in-depth presentation from Avocados From Mexico president Alvaro Luque on everything from Super Bowl commercials to digital marketing strategy to what the organization views as the biggest opportunity to grow the category.

AFM has spent $17 million over four years for its Super Bowl ads, but Luque heralded the ongoing investment as a game-changer. In five years, Avocados From Mexico has gone from 65% market share to 83% market share and from 20% consumer brand preference to 55% consumer brand preference — no doubt attributable at least in part to its 14 billion impressions per year, many of which can be attributed to AFM’s Super Bowl ads and the accompanying hype.

Along with creating commercials that garner almost unanimously positive feedback, AFM leverages the interest on numerous digital platforms before and after the event, and as a result sales in the weeks following the game have been almost as high as in the weeks leading up to the game, according to AFM.

“If you see the Super Bowl as a Super Bowl ad, I don’t think that you’re going to get your money back,” Luque said. “If you see the Super Bowl as an excuse to develop a campaign, it’s the most underrated investment that you can do.”

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While the Super Bowl is an unparalleled advertising opportunity because of its reach as the most viewed television event in the U.S. every year, Luque explained that is also a great fit for Avocados From Mexico in particular.

First, guacamole is associated with football season. Second, at the time of the Super Bowl, the only country of origin for avocados is Mexico.

Reaching the target audience is another part of the equation.

“Our main consumer is still female, and if you see the conversation in the game, it’s very balanced, almost 50-50 between female and male, but if you go to the conversation on the Super Bowl ads, 70% of the conversation on Super Bowl ads are female, so now you’re going to get not only a good balanced audience in the TV ad, but you’re going to get a great audience in the conversation,” Luque said.


Beyond the Super Bowl

As much attention as AFM receives for its commercials, its marketing efforts go far beyond one game.

Avocados From Mexico takes the approach of using big events or projects as launching pads and keeps the momentum rolling with robust digital offerings. Luque gave examples including AFM’s partnership with MyFitnessPal, its participation in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, its engagement at South by Southwest, its release of interactive AvocadoLand videos about Michoacan, and its creation of a shoppable recipes center focused on avocado salads.

“I truly believe that in digital size doesn’t matter,” Luque said. “There’s no way — no way — that I can compete with Coca-Cola, with Pepsi, with Budweiser in offline. No way, ever. I can triple, quadruple my budget, I will never compete with those guys — but I can kick their behind in digital, if I do it right.

“That’s a big, big insight that produce needs to take (advantage of) because we’re always going to be small,” Luque said. “That doesn’t mean that we cannot be nimble, that we cannot be intelligent, that we cannot be efficient.”


Who’s the competition?

The market share of Mexican avocados has grown markedly in recent years, but Luque said AFM is eyeing expansion of the category rather than domination of it.

“California Avocados is not our competition,” Luque said. “If you asked me who’s our competition, I would say my competition is bacon.

“The biggest opportunity that we have is to jump into the categories that everyone else in consuming every single day, so we think that our biggest opportunity is in what we call handhelds — burgers, sandwiches, wraps, burritos, toast, tacos,” Luque said. “America is still a sandwich-driven country, and if you see the penetration that avocados have now in handhelds, it’s around 8%, so that means that 92% of all the handhelds that are served in the U.S., they don’t have avocados.”

Of course, as the category expands, AFM hopes to get a big chunk of that expansion, Luque noted.

Some of the ways AFM plans to grow the category include making a bigger push around Cinco de Mayo, rolling out more experiential marketing engagements (like the avocado-centric concession stand at American Airlines Center in Dallas) and personalizing its marketing messages.

Related: Amelia and Ashley talk avocados in the latest episode of Millennials Eat

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