The Packer: Avocado commission retools some marketing programs in crisis

The California Avocado Commission is shifting promotion plans during the COVID-19 crisis, including moving billboard ads to online content.

“The commission has been extensively reevaluating each CAC activity in light of societal shifts and sensitivities and adjusting our activities as we strive to move forward in support of this year’s California avocado crop with the right messages, tone and method of delivery,” Tom Bellamore, commission president, said in the release. “Likewise, the obvious importance of retail sales and the constraints on the foodservice industry are driving daily decisions about how we allocate resources and support our valued customers.”

With stay-at-home orders decreasing the strength of outdoor advertising, the avocado commission is moving more promotions to streaming video and digital communication. Consumer and trade events have been cancelled, but digital programs with bloggers and chefs continue, according to a news release.

“Major changes, such as ‘safer at home’ orders have caused CAC to critically examine where and how consumers are spending their time, how they are feeling about things and what resources we might provide as a brand,” Jan DeLyser, commission vice president of marketing, said in the release.

Although a strong demand at retail was “somewhat offset” by the dropoff in foodservice sales, the commission is reporting California growers harvested 46.7 million pounds as of March 22, compared to 5.1 million pounds at the same time last season. Part of the increase is due to this year’s larger crop, but most is from a heightened demand, according to the release.

Retail expectations for a drop in traffic from the COVID-19 panic buying in mid-March is causing growers to temporarily slow down harvest. Mature avocados can remain on trees, providing harvest flexibility.

Rains in California growing areas will lead to larger sizes and quality in late spring and summer, according to the release.

This season’s promotional theme “The best avocados have California in them,” continues. Some marketing activities might be moved to later in the season, and other programs will replace canceled events.

The commission has added avocado washing tips to its website.

“Positivity and healthy food, like avocados, are among what consumers need most right now,” DeLyser said in the release. “Given the timing and the fact that the new advertising campaign had launched, we decided to stay with it.”

See more of The Packer’s coronavirus COVID-19 coverage here.

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