(Jan. 30, WEB EXCLUSIVE) According to a representative of the Avocado Producers and Exporting Packers Association of Michoacan, Mexico, the organization made a significant investment in its promotions for avocados the three months leading up to the Super Bowl. It was only reasonable to expect those efforts to pay off.

Even so, the returns on that investment appear to be more than anyone could have imagined.

"This is historic for Mexico," said APEAM marketing director Emiliano Escobedo.

According to APEAM, the three-month campaign spanning Nov. 17 through Feb. 2 has more than doubled its estimated reach of 130 million consumers by hitting more than 301 million general market and Hispanic shoppers in the top avocado consumption markets of New York, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Chicago.

"What helped was that we had the volume to support the promotions," Escobedo said. "That builds confidence with retailers that they'll have the volume of fruit with their promotions."

"Chile was down (in avocados because of a freeze two years ago). The California crop is down. All eyes were on Mexico to see if we could support the demand, and I think we came through pretty well," he said.

According to APEAM, during the promotion period, avocado sales increased 79% in Texas and 25% in Chicago at stores that ran the promotions. From October through December of 2008, Mexico supplied 70% of the avocado market. For the Super Bowl, the biggest single event for avocado consumption each year, that is expected to increase to 80%.

"Our Super Bowl pool started the week of Jan. 12," Escobedo said. "That week, we increased our volume from an average of 250 truck loads to 428 truck loads, up 62%. The week of Jan. 19, we shipped 532 loads. Last week, we shipped 527 loads."

Overall, in weeks two, three and four of January, loads of avocados shipped this year were 1,487, up from 1,038 over the same period in 2008, an increase of 43%.

"These loads are historic for Mexico," Escobedo said. "It was like a promise kept."

Advertising efforts for the current campaign included three flights of radio and TV advertising on top-rated programs in general and Hispanic markets in the selected cities. APEAM was able to secure $488,945 in added value and promotions which included more than 850 bonus spots/billboards, sponsorships, and various other promotions.

Public relations efforts included a series of press releases and nationwide celebrity chef TV appearances. APEAM also launched a microsite, www.avocadofiesta.com, to provide consumers with news and promotions, including an online video contest, which drew 67 videos and more than 6,400 votes for the top prize.

And the best news of all for APEAM was that this all was reported before Super Bowl Sunday even took place.

"We haven't seen the numbers yet for the Super Bowl," Escobedo said. "But based on what our numbers are showing, we're optimistic that our upcoming numbers will be even stronger."