Rebranding Alligator Pears

Jul 9, 2018

It’s hard to imagine today, but there was a time when people weren’t interested in buying avocados – let alone paying extra for them.

Long before it served as an excessive toast topping for millennials, the avocado was better known as the “alligator pear” and was practically unheard of among U.S. shoppers. Those who were aware of it didn’t know how to tell if it was ripe and didn’t know how to prepare it. Thanks to a series of creative marketing pushes, Americans today are eating nearly twice as many avocados as they were a decade ago.

Avocado production worldwide from 2000 to 2016 (in million metric tons) via Statistia.


In addition to successfully changing the fruit’s name, The California Avocado Grower’s Exchange battled the low-fat diet craze of the 1980s and even helped drive the idea of “good fats” by funding research and running ads on avocados’ health benefits.

Avocados and the Super Bowl

But it was the 1992 Super Bowl – or rather the “Guacamole Bowl” – that really put avocados on the path to popularity. Public relations firm Hill & Knowlton created a number of campaigns centered on getting guacamole into America’s Super Bowl snack rotation. Teams shared their favorite guacamole recipes and people could vote for their favorite. The Eagles, for example, offered this recipe: four ripe avocados, lemon juice, garlic, tomato, onion, cumin, pepper sauce, and “Pasadena red rose petals for garnish (optional).”

With guacamole, consumers suddenly had an easy and delicious way to eat avocados. People started associating avocados with guacamole at parties and had plenty of recipes spelling out how to prepare it. With that foothold, combined with its new reputation as a health food, the avocado grew to become the celebrated upcharge we all know and love today.

Long story short: Sometimes you have to help customers connect the dots between your brand and its ultimate benefit. Make sure your story includes a clear path from your offering to the experience customers crave. Your brand may just be an alligator pear waiting to become a party staple.

This article also appeared in our weekly newsletter, Long Story Short. It was written by Alex Irwin.

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