(Aug. 26) IRVINE, Calif. — The Chilean Avocado Importers Association hopes to serve an ace to start its season by featuring a popular Chilean tennis player who is in the global spotlight after winning two Olympic medals in Athens, Greece.

Fernando Gonzalez, known as “Gonzo,” is the new spokesman for the association this season, which started major shipments into the U.S. the week of Aug. 23.

The association, which is part of the Hass Avocado Board, couldn’t have timed the partnership better. Gonzalez won the bronze medal in the men’s singles after defeating American Taylor Dent on Aug. 22. The same day Gonzalez and Nicolas Massu claimed Chile’s first gold medal in the men’s doubles.

Gonzalez is a superstar in his home country and is an ideal person to represent the Chilean association, said Irene Cabanas, Hass Avocado Board representative.

His involvement with the summer Olympics pulled Gonzalez into a larger role in promoting avocados for the Hass Avocado Board.

“Olympics was the perfect fit with Gonzalez,” Cabanas said.

The board realized he would be a strong role model but wasn’t sure how to plug in the tennis player’s talents between August and January. The summer Olympic games became the ideal vehicle to tie Gonzalez into global promotions.

The California Avocado Commission also is excited about Gonzalez’s involvement in promoting global consumption of hass avocados, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing.

The Chilean association features Gonzalez, the No. 14 seed in the U.S. Open, which was to start Aug. 30, on its Web site with ideas for using avocados that target kids. Hass avocados are described as a perfect after-school snack — one loaded with health benefits.

“Avocados are a regular part of my fitness routine,” said Gonzalez on the Web site. “An icy cold avocado smoothie is my usual snack — but when I am in a hurry I just scoop and eat.”

The association’s marketing activities include more than $3 million in radio advertising from late August to mid-September. The radio ads will promote avocados as an ideal food for every occasion and will be broadcast in California, Arizona, Texas, Oregon and Washington, according to the association.

Medalist takes up cause of Chilean avocados
The Chilean Avocado Importers Association has signed tennis medalist Fernando Gonzalez as spokesman.