A decade or two ago, avocado marketers built their fall and winter promotions around events like Super Bowl parties and the guacamole such gatherings generally feature.

In recent years, marketers have expanded their programs to embrace much more than one day, or even one sport.

Fall means college and professional football, as well as the Major League Baseball playoffs.

That’s just the ticket to boost sales, said David Fausset, salesman/category manager with Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.

“Fall is usually a slower time for demand in the category, but heavy efforts are being made to promote heavily during the baseball playoffs and tailgating for college and pro football, especially by Avocados from Mexico (Mexico’s marketing organization), since this is key to the start of their season,” Fausset said.

Showcasing avocados during key TV sports programming is crucial to growth, said Dana Thomas, president of Riverside, Calif.-based Index Fresh Inc.

“There’s a lot of money spent on promotions and ads and nutrition,” Thomas said, estimating promotional expenditures from California, Mexico, Chile and Peru to exceed $50 million.

“That goes a long way,” he said.

The Chilean Avocado Importers Association believes strongly in sports promotional tie-ins, said Karen Brux, managing director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association and director of CAIA in San Carlos, Calif.

Brux said Americans consumed 79 million pounds of avocados during the 2013 Super Bowl, and more than 100 million pounds during the 2014 Super Bowl.

“Retailers love to promote during this period, so we work with them to design customized promotions,” Brux said, noting that promotional efforts can range from display contests to in-store product demonstrations and sales contests.

“Whatever it takes to generate big, beautiful displays of avocados from Chile and drive increased purchases,” she said.

The Super Bowl was an ideal building block for sports-focused avocado promotions, said Bob Lucy, partner at Fallbrook, Calif.-based grower-shipper Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc.

“The idea was it wasn’t just a game — it was a whole season, and we can do this with tailgating, baseball, the World Series, and it’s been very successful,” he said.

Lucy said that might not have happened 15 years ago, but consumption has grown with promotions.

The two go hand in hand, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission, Irvine.

“For the category as a whole, these sporting events have provided great promotional opportunities to build displays and encourage consumption,” DeLyser said. “Anytime and every event that brings people together provides an opportunity for avocado consumption and promotion.”