As Donald Trump’s suggested Mexican import tax thrusts avocados into the center of a fiery political debate, the very first commercial to air during this Sunday’s Super Bowl will make the case for buying them from suppliers south of the border.
The organization behind the ad, however, would rather you didn’t talk about politics.
Avocados from Mexico, a group that advertises on behalf of Mexican avocado growers and exporters, has done its best to stay out of the political fray even as its livelihood became a trending topic on social media last week.
“We’re just focused on what we need to do as an organization,” says the group’s director of brand marketing, Kevin Hamiltion. “We’re focused on our message this nutritional message, being available [year-round], tasting good and good times.”
Avocados from Mexico stayed mostly silent when Trump suggested a 20-percent tax on all imports from Mexico last week, aside from a brief, restrained statement from its parent industry group.
“As the leading avocado brand, we remain confident that the trade policy between our two governments will continue to support U.S. consumers growing love of avocados,” a spokesperson for the Avocado Producers and Exporting Packers Association of Mexico said in the statement.
But the avocado entered the political conversation nonetheless when people on social media realized the policy would have a big impact on its price. Nearly 80 percent of the United States’ avocados come from Mexico.
The connection may still loom large approaching the brand’s most important advertising effort of the year.
As Trump’s controversies swallow up the news cycle day in and day out, even the most innocuous references can trigger angry reactions.
In a way, Avocados From Mexico is a victim of its own success
Budweiser, for instance, has already been accused of political grandstanding on social media for a Super Bowl ad that simply depicts its founder’s journey as an immigrant. Never mind that its premise was finalized months before Trump’s inauguration.
While Super Bowl advertisers usually obsess over finding the cultural pulse of the moment, most big brands start plotting their messages as early as the day after the previous Big Game. It’s doubtful that many of them could’ve foreseen the exact nature of our current political climate.
In a way, Avocados From Mexico is a victim of its own success. The fatty fruit (yes, it technically is) was only a big discussion topic in the first place because of the special place it’s found in America’s heart in recent years just look at the fuss over guac at Chipotle or avocado toast. And the group takes some credit for sewing that salience.
“It goes beyond something to eat there’s a bit of a pop culture component associated with avocados these days,” Hamilton said. “We’d like to think we had a hand in that.”
The brand has appeared during the last two Super Bowls as well, and each ad was met with such resounding booms in sales that the event has become the centerpiece of its marketing strategy.
“[The Super Bowl] is really one of the only spaces in media particularly with this type of mass audience in in which you can guarantee an impression is real because people actually want to see the ad content,” Hamilton said.
This year, the group’s goofy, John Lovitz-helmed ad focuses on the nutritional benefits of avocados, now that it finally has the Food and Drug Administration’s blessing to advertise them as “healthy.”
We’ll see whether that’s all the game’s tens of millions of viewers will be discussing afterwards.