Autumn means not only a new wave of avocados hits the market — it also brings heightened excitement about sports in the U.S.

For the last few years, avocado marketers have glommed onto that interest and combined their strategies with college football and Major League Baseball playoffs.

“For advertising, I think it’s pretty effective,” said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing with Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc.

It also take a lot of effort and coordination to pull it off, Wedin said.

“The advertising is expensive ... so converting those themes at the store level to sales is where the hard work takes place,” he said.

Baseball promotion

Marketing agents of Chilean and Mexican avocados work to promote their products during U.S. sports telecasts in the fall.

The Fallston, Md.-based Mexican Hass Avocados Importers Association, for example, will advertise avocados during the baseball playoff telecasts to the TBS network, as part of its “Big Hit” promotion.

“The first time we did the partnership with (TBS), they came back blown away with the numbers and called it one of the most effective campaigns they’ve ever done,” said Jackie Bohmer, MHAIA’s marketing director.

MHAIA runs one of several sweepstakes programs during the promotion. About 4,000 supermarket displays will go up, as part of a contest for produce managers.

“Baseball, for us, works as well in the selling as any other program,” Bohmer said.

So does football, a focus of the Chilean Hass Avocado Committee, said Adolfo Ochagavía, the committee’s president.

“All social events that gather friends or family in a relaxed atmosphere are good opportunities for avocados, so you may do it at home watching a football or baseball game on TV or tailgating in the stadium’s parking lot,” he said.

Super Bowl season

For several years, the Washington, D.C.-based Chilean Avocado Importers Association has had a marketing tie-in with college football’s Fiesta Bowl.

There’s also the Super Bowl, which many marketers point to as perhaps their biggest single-day marketing opportunity.

“One of the things about the late fall period is people are coming off the summer and going back to potatoes and gravy, and we’re hopeful you don’t see it drag down the avocado category,” he said.

That’s why strong advertising and promotional programs are needed, through venues like the Super Bowl, he said.

“It’s about keeping product moving,” he said.

Sports promotions do that, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing with the Irvine, Calif.-based California Avocado Commission.

“When you think about tailgating, there’s a lot of room to develop recipes that go well with what’s already part of the menu,” she said.