How marketers made the world love avocados
The Aztec name for avocados was “aguacatl”, and the other meaning of the word was “testicle” - probably due to the “similarity of the body part to the kind of fruits hanging on the branch, and also due to the пис properties attributed to them aphrodisiac. However, when in the middle of the XIX century the fruit was brought to California, this name did not stick, like “alligator pear” - so was called avocado because of its shape and rough, uneven skin.
Associations with the sexual organs and the predatory reptile did not attract buyers too much, sales were sluggish, and the supply far exceeded demand. Farmers who grew avocados blamed the unfortunate naming in the deplorable market situation and, in order to somehow remedy the situation, launched a campaign for changing the name. As a result, by the mid-1920s, a new, shorter version, adapted from the word “aguacate”, which the Spaniards designated the fruit, the avocado, was officially installed in the United States.
The difficulties did not end there.Another problem for manufacturers was to explain an unfamiliar product to the consumer and force him to buy a strange fruit that was not sweet to the taste, slippery to the touch, poorly cooked and had to ripen after harvesting from the tree. In Mexico, avocados are consumed as a sauce in tortillas, sandwiches, salads and toasts, but in the first half of the 20th century, an American was not accustomed to all these dishes. In addition, the fruit was quite expensive, as in the United States could grow only in the southern regions of the country.
A new blow to sales was delivered by nutritionists. In the second half of the 20th century, it was generally accepted that fatty foods harm the body, and nutritionists advised to exclude fat from the diet.The consumer did not go into the difference between saturated (against which a low-fat campaign was turned) and monounsaturated fats (useful and necessary for the body), and the oily fruit, although in the second category, came under fire. Everyone who was striving for a healthy lifestyle tried to switch to non-nutritive food, and some doctors directly told patients to forget about avocado.
Manufacturers again had to take matters into their own hands. They began to sponsor studies that highlight the benefits of their product, told Americans about the high-fat Mediterranean diet, and started advertising on television: movie star 1950–1960s Angie Dickinson in a snow-white body urge to eat fruit with spoons to get the necessary vitamins. Under the California Commission of Avocados, a nutrition committee appeared that attracted nutritionists from across the country to scientifically confirm the beneficial properties of the fruit.
When this did not help, the farmers turned to the PR people. To correct the image of the avocado, Hill & Knowlton was hired by the agency, whose task was to make the fruit an understandable and accessible product of daily consumption.In addition to the aggressive television campaign in the early 1990s, the company came up with a special character named Mr. Ripe Guy (English ripe - ripe - pointed to the peculiarities of ripening of an avocado who traveled through the streets in California to " Mazda "avocado color and carried with him a basket of fruit.
The turning point for avocados in the United States came after the integration into the Super Bowl - the most popular sporting event of the year. The time of its holding - January and the beginning of February - coincides with the ripening period of avocados for most American producers, and the latter decided to combine one with the other by offering snacks with guacamole to fans at the stadium. At the same time, manufacturers were publishing special guacamole recipes from National Football League players and their families. Numerous notes appeared in the press saying how many pounds of sauce are needed to cover a football field; how many millions of avocados fans ate a game day. Soon, avocado dishes turned into an indispensable attribute of watching games, taking place next to the obligatory chicken wings and pizza.
Avocado has become an example of how marketing creates demand. Although today it occupies one of the main places (among fruits) in the consumer basket of Americans, manufacturers continue to spend on the promotion of this product over $ 37 million per year (as of 2013). Some other fruits could not repeat the experience of avocado, despite the attempts: for example, the American kiwi producers tried to link their product with Groundhog Day (February 2), “because they are both fluffy,” but the idea was not successful.