Big Game growth hacking: spotlight on Avocados From Mexico’s Ivonne Kinser

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Despite not being one of the juggernauts, Avocados From Mexico made a big impression during the Super Bowl. Meet Ivonne Kinser, who heads the company’s digital efforts.

The Super Bowl is the biggest event in the sports year and you could say it’s something of a big deal for marketers, as well. But with a 30-second spot costing upward of $4 million, Super Bowl ads are associated with the biggest brands with the biggest budgets.

They archetypical Super Bowl advertiser isn’t a newer, smaller company and certainly not one that exclusively sells fruit. (Avocados are actually berries, we Googled it.) However, Avocados From Mexico used the Big Game to put itself on the map, a decision that was a “no brainer” for Ivonne Kinser, the company’s head of digital.

ivonne-headshotDespite the fact that no other produce company has ever done it, Kinser thinks her product is perfectly suited for a Super Bowl ad.

“If there’s something that’s going to be in the majority of households [during the Super Bowl] it’s guacamole and beer,” she says.

“I love the status quo. It always reminds me where I don’t want to be,” she adds.

Daring to be different

Kinser’s entire career has been about spurning the status quo. In 2001, she moved from Venezuela to Dallas to take a job with TM Advertising, a McCann-owned agency formerly known as Temerlin McClain.

One of her accounts was American Airlines, where she launched the brand’s first international digital campaigns: mostly banner ads that were cutting edge at the time. She fell in love with digital immediately – particularly the way you can track results in real-time – and never looked back.

That passion for digital is ultimately why Avocados From Mexico reached out to her more than a decade later.

“I was at Haggar Clothing and a recruiter called me,” Kinser remembers. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do with avocados?’ I told the recruiter, ‘I don’t have any experience in the category.’ She said she didn’t care; they just wanted someone with a strong experience in digital.”

It’s not just Kinser; Avocados From Mexico itself is based on being different. Unlike most other Super Bowl advertisers, the focus of the commercials is not on growing the brand. That’s almost irrelevant, as Avocados From Mexico has the market to itself for a good portion of the year.

“For some reason, nature was very generous because the volcanic soil in Michoacán is the only place on Earth where the avocado tree has four blooms. During the Super Bowl season, we’re the only avocados available,” says Kisner.

Therefore, the ads are more about pushing the industry. Mexico exports nearly half of the world’s avocados, and the brand doesn’t consider California to be competition. San Diego avocados won’t start to get ripe until about March.

Super Bowl strategies

One of Kinser’s methods for boosting the avocado industry was never to settle for a single impression. Avocados From Mexico was one of the stars of social media during the days leading up to the Super Bowl. #AvosInSpace was the most tweeted of the branded hashtags, with nearly all of the mentions positive.

Kinser built on that buzz throughout the game. The brand tweeted with almost every other Super Bowl advertiser, taking advantage of the generally larger audiences of brands like Doritos and Coca-Cola. (Her favorite ad, besides her own, was Heinz’s “Weiner Stampede.”) Additionally, the brand responded to its Twitter mentions with links to recipes.

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“Any impression we drive, we multiply by at least two. Sometimes you reply with the recipe and they reply back, ‘I love that recipe, thank you very much!’ and they keep on engaging,” says Kinser. “The recipe ties back to the landing page, where we have prizes. You have to tweet the prize in order to win it.

“Growth hacking has different definitions, but to me, it’s making the best out of an organic engagement,” she adds.

avocado-trafficKinser’s growth-hacking made for a successful Super Bowl. After last year’s game, the brand’s search traffic spiked dramatically, something that happened again, judging by Google’s partial data for February.

Analyzing advertisers’ digital footprints across paid search, SEO, social, display and email, Merkle named TurboTax the winner of its Digital Bowl Report yesterday. In second place? Avocados From Mexico.

“We don’t have the financial muscle that [other brands] have,” says Kinser. “When a source like Merkle takes a deeper dive into the digital strategies of the Super Bowl brands and recognizes our efforts beyond the ‘sexiness’ of social media, it’s very rewarding.”

The road to New York

Kinser is proud to be from the only produce brand to ever run a Super Bowl ad, as well as the only produce brand to ever have a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

In November, Avocados From Mexico created an interactive map on a landing page and asked users to tweet it. Each tweet moved the float closer from Michoacán to New York. It was out of the box, but it worked for the brand.

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“My style is not a one-size-fits-all style. I love disruption and I have a very interactive imagination. I make traditional brands a little bit nervous, but when I came here, the president loved and embraced that approach,” says Kinser.

The campaign got people involved and ensured that Avocados From Mexico got not only a lot of interaction and impressions, but social media buzz. And just like this past weekend, this smallish fruit company seemed to come out of nowhere and make a splash.

That’s kind of Kinser’s thing.

Ten-word philosophy

Beginning with Walrus’ Deacon Webster, we’ve decided to end our profiles with the subject’s personal philosophy in 10 words.

A firm believer that there’s always a better way to do things, Kinser thinks the digital age allows for the “where there’s a will, there’s a way” mindset to flourish. Ever the disruptor, her philosophy has an eleventh word.

“If you can imagine it, there’s technology to make it possible.”

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