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California Grown & (insta)Grammed

In the midst of twenty-first century pop culture icons, the humble avocado nearly stands alone as a representative for fresh produce. After becoming increasingly available to shoppers world-wide, the avocado is now one of the most beloved fruits with an almost cult-like following. And where would it be without entities like the California Avocado Commission (CAC) to foster trade connections and expand consumers’ awareness of—and love for—the popular fruit?

Consumers are a technologically savvy bunch now, and marketing teams like Jan DeLyser’s at CAC are taking advantage of that by cultivating new, experimental ways to create interest in products. In the past year, pop-ups and interactive museums have started a frenzy in the realm of social media and have created a new niche in pop culture for Instagrammable interactive exhibits.

Tapping into the latest social media craze, CAC is taking on the role of title sponsor in the launch of the next big social media extravaganza: The CADO. A pop-up experience celebrating one of the hottest California-grown fruit, The CADO is spearheaded by Co-Founders Anne Buehner and Mary Carr of & Boom Unlimited, who envision it as a way of speaking to millennial and Generation Z social media trendsetters about a fruit they love in a way they won’t be able to get enough of.

Jan DeLyser VP of Marketing, California Avocado Commission“The partnership has felt like a great fit from the start,” Jan tells me. “The Commission had worked with Anne when she was with one of our agencies in CAC’s online business. When Anne and Mary were developing the concept, they reached out to us and we thought both the theme and the timing were perfect for a pop-up experience featuring California avocados in the San Diego-area. We incorporated the sponsorship into our business plan and presented it to our board, receiving their enthusiastic approval.”

As someone who lives for the ‘Gram, I can barely conceal my excitement for this endeavor. Built out of shipping containers, The CADO is 6,700-square-feet and mobile, so who knows where The CADO will pop-up next? With immersive art installations, food tastings, and other elements sure to be a party for visitors’ senses, the pop-up presents a chance for consumers and shoppers to get up close and personal with all things California avocados. In an interactive and aesthetically pleasing way, the CADO will walk attendees through how California avocados are grown, their nutritional benefits, and their ripening process to encourage and inspire visitors to seize the opportunity for an avocado-themed photo op.

“The goal behind The CADO is to provide a delightful experience where visitors develop more of an emotional connection to, and appreciation for, the food they are Instagramming—specifically California avocados—through an immersive art experience,” Anne tells me.

A must-have for millennials and the following generations—I mean, if you don’t have an Instagram, do you even exist?—social media as a platform for engagement and promotion is expanding its scope and becoming the next digital marketplace—something CAC is taking advantage of its sponsorship of The CADO. A fresh idea in the marketing world, the whole purpose of The CADO is to get attendees to take to Instagram and share their love for California avocados.

“Marketing is ever evolving with rapid changes in the media landscape,” Jan explains. “It’s imperative for brands to be authentic and connect with consumers where they are throughout the day. This pop-up experience provides an extension that is a great fit with our marketing campaign, allowing consumers to engage with California avocados and learn information they may not have previously known.”

The CADO’s founders leveraged CAC’s expertise to weave in educational information about California avocados with their experiential vision, broadening that to a life-size scale visitors can walk, eat, and content-create through.

“The CADO will work with some local restaurants, chefs, and food providers to serve California-inspired avocado recipes on site. Growers’ stories will be featured, and attendees will be educated about the growing process through the art and a special take-home newspaper for visitors, along with content on Instagram,” Mary shares. “Social media is a key vehicle to deliver messaging about California avocados—from the land where they are grown and the growers who nurture them, to nutrition, recipes, and usage ideas.”

And it’s no secret that & Boom and CAC are targeting a certain demographic—one that the social media-motivated and the avocado-obsessed fall within.

“The target consumer audience is millennials in Southern California (and visitors) who are looking for both interesting experiences and places to build their personal content,” Anne tells me. “According to Eventbrite, 78 percent of millennials want to spend money on experiences over material possessions, so we’re providing that opportunity.”

What better way to experience the California-grown avocado and make green-hued memories than in quintessential San Diego?

“It’s a plus that it’s located in San Diego, one of the key markets and a major California avocado production area,” Anne says. “San Diego is a community with a growing foodie scene and agricultural history. In addition to being one of the largest growing regions of avocados in California, the San Diego market is ripe for a cultural experience like this!”

Jan notes the Commission’s marketing campaign premise is grounded in the idea that California avocados are made of California, not just in California. She stresses that The CADO, located close to many of the growers the pop-up is supporting, complements CAC’s other marketing initiatives.

This year, the Commission has multiple innovative marketing initiatives that differentiate California-grown avocados. With eyes on foodservice, retail, and home-chef extraordinaires, CAC is drawing inspiration from its roots and creating marketing programs that leverage iconic locales of the Golden State. New print, outdoor, and digital ads feature beautiful California landmarks along with California avocado images and emphasize that the fruit is grown close to home.

Jan also explains that when consumers go to a restaurant and see California Burgers, California Caesar Salads, or California Omelets on the menu, that usually means there are avocados in the dish. With a Chef’d partnership and features on CaliforniaAvocado.com, TheScoop blog, and via recipe videos tagged to retailers promoting the California avocado season and iconic California dishes, the Commission’s recipe promotions are yet another way CAC is keeping avocados where the trade and consumers want them: on shopping lists and dining plates!

CAC was also present at Disney’s Food and Wine Festival, as well as at Smorgasburg at the Santa Monica Pier, showcasing the availability of California avocados and tying it in with its cultural landscape.

To stay up-to-date with the latest dishes avocados are diving into, CAC also encourages restaurant chains to create innovative menu items with California avocados that may become the new iconic California recipes in the future.

With a fresh strategy unique in the realm of produce, CAC is starting a new wave of marketing trends to connect with consumers with the launch of The CADO this June. Sure to be the next big thing in the produce industry and beyond, CAC, Jan, and team are ones to watch in the produce industry for what’s fresh, current, and consumer-forward when it comes to keeping California-grown avocados in shopping carts and consumers’ hearts.