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For several years, a NASCAR sponsorship was a big part of the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association's promotional efforts. For the 2008-09 season, MHAIA stepped away from NASCAR and began looking instead for what MHAIA Chairman Mike Browne, vice president of fresh operations for Calavo Growers Inc. in Santa Paula, CA, referred to as "another Super Bowl" -- another seasonal event around which could be built an avocado promotion as successful as the Super Bowl weekend promotional period has been for avocados in general and Chilean avocados in particular.

With continued growth in Mexican avocado exports to the United States and with Chile and California both expecting much larger avocado volumes during the year ahead, MHAIA decided to pursue a joint promotional effort in cooperation with other avocado organizations "to try to create an advertising and marketing environment where we have more impact dollars and less redundancy," said Mr. Browne. "That has been talked about for at least a year-and-a-half to two years, and with the encouraged feelings we all have about the larger crops coming" from various locations, the timing seemed right to pursue a cooperative program.

Accordingly, MHAIA, the Hass Avocado Board and the Chilean Avocado Importers Association decided to get involved in a cooperative program for the fall season, "a period of time when we have a lot of converging volume that has been absent any kind of special event that really pushes avocados," he said. "So we decided we were going to go after baseball."

It is "the first time down the track" with a cooperative program of this sort, he said, but "we're feeling really good about the cooperation between the associations as we put this together."

The joint promotion will provide "a consumer platform on which each association then can go out and develop its own promotional tactics," he said. With strong supplies of Mexican and Chilean avocados coming into the U.S. market this fall, "with a good promotional effort, we should have better velocity."

Mr. Browne expressed hope that this would be just the first of many instances of joint cooperation going forward. In addition, he said, "I really challenge California to look at working with other associations in the future & as well" in order to reap the greatest benefit from the promotional dollars spent.

MHAIA is also coordinating its other advertising, public relations and retail promotional activities with the Avocado Producers & Exporting Packers Association of Michoac?n to avoid geographic overlap. Beginning last year, both organizations have been carrying out their programs under a common identity: avocados from Mexico.