(June 13) With a forecasted harvest of 340-million pounds of avocados this year, the California Avocado Commission, Irvine, Calif., launched a $6 million media blitz in the hopes of reaching out to millions of avocado lovers across the country.

The ultimate goal is to achieve more than 830 million “impressions,” said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the commission. She said the ad budget is $1 million more than in previous years.

While the harvest is of average size, compared to the record 600 million pounds for 2005-2006, the has pulled out all stops this year, branching into the cable television, retail floor art and shopping baskets to spread its message.

“We’re reaching consumers around the clock, nearly everywhere they go with a call to action to insist on California avocados,” DeLyser said.

Thirty-second television commercials will appear on the Food Network featuring California Avocado grower Carl Stucky and the new “Hand Grown in California” logo, she said.

The campaign had its beginnings when the California Avocado Commission began a search for a new ad agency.

“As part of the search the agency conducted some consumer research and we dug into our existing data to identify everything we could about the avocado consumer,” she said. “We identified some attributes that let us know that television was the place to be.”

She described the typical avocado lover as a Food Network viewer because they enjoy entertaining at home and searching the Internet or watching food shows for dining and menu tips.

The TV commercials began running in late April through May, leading in to the traditional Cinco de Mayo campaign, followed up by another run through the Memorial Day weekend. Going forward, DeLyser said more commercials would run through the end of July.

“We’re also excited about the Health Club Network, where we are in fitness centers in core markets with advertising posters,” she said. “There’s also floor graphics, grocery carts and the outdoor advertising.”

She said the grocery cart ads featured grower Duncan Abbott, owner of Abbott Ranch, Carpinteria, Calif., which will be followed in late June by the “Hand Grown in California” logo.

Print ads featuring personal stories of growers will appear in Bon Appétit, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Taste of Home, Saveur, Everyday Food, Eating Well, Cooking with Paula Deen, Cooking Light and House Beautiful.

The campaign will also spread virtually on the Internet through advertising on Food.com, Univision.com and more than 60 other food-related sites found on the Google network. There will be sponsored events, including Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation in Los Angeles; the Snapple Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in New York City; and Everyday Food cooking classes at Viking and Saveur cooking schools in markets across the country.

The commission plans to continue with its core media outreach on radio and outdoor advertising on billboards and in transit shelters in San Francisco and Los Angeles, to reach out to avocado lovers no matter where they are, DeLyser said.

A public relations campaign will reinforce the paid advertising.

“We want to communicate with consumers through more in-depth stories about California avocados, about the growers, some nutrition profiles and usage concepts,” she said.

In late summer or early fall, DeLyser said the commission would evaluate the effectiveness of each segment of the campaign.

“Then we can assess where we need to be moving forward,” she said.

Campaign in full swing for California avocados
A $6 million campaign from the California Avocado Commission includes television and radio spots, posters in health clubs, advertising on billboards, sponsored events and more.