To say Alvaro Luque, the president of Avocados From Mexico, was nervous during last year’s Super Bowl would be an understatement. His company had decided to advertise during the game for the first time, and millions of dollars were at stake.
“If I didn’t have a heart attack last Super Bowl, that was a good sign,” Mr. Luque said. “It was completely crazy for us.”
The gamble, he said, paid off. The Super Bowl spot, which ran in the second quarter of the game and was a humorous take on a football draft, generated significant excitement on social media. The short jingle at the end delighted viewers. Perhaps most important, Mr. Luque said, “We sold a lot of avocados.”
Avocados From Mexico, the nonprofit marketing arm of two avocado associations, is among a small group of companies that will head to the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 for a second go-round. No longer buzzy newcomers whose flops are more easily excused, but not yet stalwarts like Budweiser or Pepsi, these second-timers occupy an often-overlooked tier of advertisers that perhaps have the most to lose. If they fall flat the second time around, they risk erasing the success of their debuts, with neither novelty nor experience to soften the blow.
“A lot of the stress around ‘Is the Super Bowl right for us?’ That’s gone,” said Jay Russell, chief creative officer of GSD&M, the ad agency behind both commercials for Avocados From Mexico. But, he added, “In a weird way, it’s more stressful because you have to come back.”
The decision by Avocados From Mexico — and by the other confirmed second-time advertisers, Skittles and the website building service Wix.com — to return to the Super Bowl underscores how important live television still is for advertisers. Tens of millions of viewers tune in to the Super Bowl, offering even small companies the opportunity to reach a huge national audience.
Matt Montei, senior marketing director for Wrigley confections, which include Skittles candy, said the rewards of appearing during the Super Bowl outweighed the financial risks. The Skittles ad last year, and a companion online video that featured the famously taciturn Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, garnered immediate attention and elevated the brand, he said.
“We had great performance in the marketplace,” he said. “A lot of that is built on a fantastic Super Bowl we had last year.”
But while the rewards are high, the risks for many of these companies are perhaps higher. Thirty seconds of commercial time during this year’s game costs about $5 million, roughly a third of the $18 million that Avocados From Mexico spent on ad buying in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the research firm Kantar Media. Generally speaking, many first-timers choose not to advertise for a second year in a row. The cruise company Carnival Corporation and the adhesives maker Loctite, for instance, which were among the 15 new advertisers last year, are not planning to return this year.
At its core, Avocados From Mexico’s Super Bowl spot is aimed at increasing avocado consumption in the United States, Mr. Luque said. But airing Super Bowl ads is also part of a broader marketing strategy that aligns less with the produce industry and more with big consumer companies like Procter & Gamble and Unilever. In particular, Avocados From Mexico wants to connect with women and Hispanic consumers, especially mothers, he said. (In addition to advertising during sports programming, the company runs TV spots during cooking and morning shows.)
“We wanted to bring the best of C.P.G. to the produce world, and that’s been the key to our marketing approach,” Mr. Luque said, referring to consumer packaged goods companies. “We’re doing things that the produce industry was never thinking about.”
For Mr. Luque, who joined Avocados From Mexico in 2014 after years of working for Mission Foods, that has meant humorous TV ads and promotional programs.
Last year’s Super Bowl ad was called “First Draft Ever,” in which countries selected animals and plants. Australia selects the kangaroo; Brazil chooses the sloth; Mexico, of course, takes the avocado.
Avocados From Mexico is not sharing details about this year’s ad, but Mr. Russell of GSD&M said it would involve plenty of humor. Scott Baio, the actor perhaps best known for his role as Chachi Arcola in the TV show “Happy Days,” will be featured.
“We’re not taking ourselves seriously,” Mr. Russell said. “It’s joke after joke after joke after joke. There’s not a wasted second.”
Avocados From Mexico’s advertising strategy appears to be working, said Kathy Means, a vice president of the Produce Marketing Association, a trade organization.
“They are pulling out all the marketing stops,” she said. “Avocados and the Super Bowl are kind of synonymous. It makes a lot of sense for them to be in that venue on that day.”
Mr. Luque said one reason Avocados From Mexico was returning to the Super Bowl was the online response its ad received last year. Roughly 70 percent of the online chatter about the company’s TV ads was related to the Super Bowl, according to the measurement firm iSpot.tv.
Avocados From Mexico also saw a 35 percent rise in avocado consumption last year, Mr. Luque said. Over all, consumption of the Hass variety of avocados grew to 2.2 billion pounds in the United States, according to the California Avocado Commission.
And a lot of avocados will be eaten during the Super Bowl: Americans are expected to eat more than 139 million pounds of avocados around Super Bowl Sunday this year, according to the Hass Avocado Board. That presence of avocados is precisely what makes advertising during the Super Bowl such an obvious choice, Mr. Luque said.
“We know for a fact that there are three things in front of the TV that day,” Mr. Luque said. “Chips, beer and soda, and guacamole.”
Source: Google News Super Bowl Commercials