AFM Celebrates with Tabasco Again

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AFM Celebrates with Tabasco Again

By Joe Bush - 08/15/2016
Social and in-store ‘Fiesta del Fuego’ campaign boosts sales leading to Cinco de Mayo

BRANDS: Avocados from Mexico and Tabasco

KEY INSIGHTS: More than 83 million individual avocados are consumed during the week of Cinco de Mayo in the United States. These same brands successfully partnered for a “Season’s Eatings” campaign during holiday 2015.

ACTIVATION: A multifaceted “Fiesta del Fuego” campaign, aiming to boost sales around Cinco de Mayo, shipped 18,000 displays nationwide and helped generate 300 million impressions on social and digital media for the brands.

Irving, Texas — Fresh off the “Season’s Eatings” promotion that raised awareness of the viability of Avocados From Mexico and McIlhenny Co.’s Tabasco as a holiday pairing, the partners executed a “Fiesta del Fuego” campaign from April 4 to May 5 to boost sales around Cinco de Mayo.

Featuring multimedia and in-store efforts, as well as a sweepstakes, the Fiesta del Fuego (translated “fire festival”) shipped 18,000 displays nationwide and, coupled with other Cinco de Mayo-related activities from the brands, generated 300 million impressions on social and digital media. “Ultimately, we defined success by the number of displays that were activated,” says Jose Espinoza, shopper marketing lead for Tabasco. “On average, large CPG companies spend millions of dollars promoting campaigns for a small activation in market. By combining our powers in the form of strong branding and budget, the campaign netted a very strong ROI.”

Ideation began in 2014, says Stephanie Bazan, market development director for Avocados From Mexico (AFM). She says a key driver was the knowledge that more than 83 million individual avocados are consumed during the week of Cinco de Mayo in the United States – the second-largest time of year for U.S. avocado sales behind Super Bowl week.

Espinoza says that once the partners decided to tie the promotion to Cinco de Mayo, they then focused on guacamole as the central recipe that includes the two ingredients. Consumers were encouraged to create their own recipe variation via a virtual “guac builder” on, which allowed users to add up to five additional ingredients ranging from pineapple to jalapenos.

From April 4 through May 15, users that named their guac recipe and shared it on Twitter using hashtags #GuacIt and #CincodeMayo were entered into a Fiesta del Fuego sweepstakes, which awarded four outdoor party packs (a $5,000 check) or six Tabasco grilling kits and $525 grocery gift cards. Consumers could also enter the sweepstakes at AFM’s

“The digital efforts for this campaign were the main out-of-store drivers,” says Mary Hansen, brand manager at McIlhenny Co. “It was very simple: build it, name it, share it – and tens of thousands of people did. Both brands also used their collective social media fan bases to join in the fun and spread the word.”

Bazan says that the fan base includes a network of 45,000-plus brand ambassadors and online influencers as well as more than 1.3 million loyal fans across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Once the out-of-store efforts brought consumers to the stores – including national, regional and independent, both general and Hispanic – they saw various P-O-P elements.

Espinoza says innovation merged with a variety of co-branded and co-merchandised display units to aid the shopping experience. “We offered eye-catching bins with hutches that merchandised both brands together in the produce section,” he says. “Bins without hutches were also offered for accounts that have height restrictions and for those stores that do not carry glass in the produce department. In those instances, a Tabasco sauce dedicated shipper – co-branded, but only carrying Tabasco sauce – was brought in to support the program through alternate placement in-store.”

There were coupons on the displays, as well as educational messaging. Bazan says there was additional activation support such as demos, loyalty programs, advertising, sampling and volume-driving contests with key retailers that overlaid the national campaign. “Retailers have become very specialized in their approach to market and they favor certain tactics which they believe provide differentiation and work best with their customer base,” Espinoza says. “One such tactic is in-store demos.”

AFM’s shopper marketing agency, Roseville, California-based AugustineIdeas, led the ideation, creative design and activation of the in-store promotion and shopper materials. Ketchum, New York, handled consumer public relations. Richards/Lerma, Dallas, drove the digital efforts.

On May 5, AFM kicked off the Cinco de Mayo celebration with a morning visit to “Good Morning America.” Bazan says three of New York City’s most popular food trucks participated in a cook-off highlighting the versatility of avocados. After the morning show, the food trucks offered samples of their creations to NYC fans.

“Without a doubt a valuable, authentic brand partnership has proven to be exactly what consumers were looking for,” Espinoza says. “Their participation in the campaign, both online and in line at stores, told us that. Post-mortem analysis will prove how effective this promotion was on delivering on promotional goals, including accounts engaged, displays sold and digital consumer engagement, among others."

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