Despite the brand’s attempts to stay apolitical in the face of President Donald Trump’s escalating tensions with Mexico, Avocados From Mexico–and avocados, in general–just can’t stay out of the spotlight.
Social media chatter about avocados and other Mexican goods spiked tremendously on Thursday after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters a 20 percent tax on products from Mexico could pay for Trump’s proposed border wall. Less than an hour later, Spicer walked back his statement, clarifying that the proposal, which would leave American shoppers footing the bill when buying everything from beer and fresh produce to appliances and cars, was “just one idea” to pay for the wall.
Although Trump’s desire for a border wall has long been a point of public discussion, Avocados From Mexico, a marketing organization in the U.S. that’s owned and funded by Avocado Producers and Exporting Packers Association of Mexico (APEAM) and Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association (MHAIA), had been hoping to stay out of the political conversation with its Super Bowl ad this year, starring Jon Lovitz. The ad will instead have a health and wellness message.
Chatter about avocados on social media spiked yesterday, according to marketing tech firm Amobee, with 33,000 tweets mentioning “avocado,” compared with 7,000 mentions of avocado on Wednesday (a 371 percent increase in 24 hours). Before Avocados From Mexico’s Super Bowl marketing push kicked in, the fruit was mentioned an average of 3,000 to 5,000 times per day, per Amobee, which looked at October 2016 social data for comparison.
Even if the 20 percent tax never happens, the narrative on social media could potentially harm Avocados From Mexico by hijacking the conversation around avocados in the time period they’re trying to lead that conversation on social, according to Amobee’s analysis. On Thursday, there were 2,038 tweets mentioning both “avocado” and “Trump,” and 1,989 tweets mentioning both “avocado” and “crisis.” There were 96 tweets mentioning both “avocado” and “trade war.”
APEAM released the following statement after the new president’s proposal began to dominate the news cycle and online conversation:
“Overall, avocado imports benefit both the Mexican and U.S. economies, and studies show that avocado imports contribute to the U.S. economy by directly and indirectly creating jobs and stimulating growth. … As the leading avocado brand, we remain confident that the trade policy between our two governments will continue to support U.S. consumers’ growing love of avocados.”
APEAM, citing a 2016 Texas A&M study, also pointed out that in 2015, U.S. avocado imports generated $3.5 billion in economic output, $2.2 billion to the U.S. GDP, $1.2 billion in labor income, $594 million in taxes and 19,000 jobs to American workers.
There were 60,900 tweets mentioning the proposed 20 percent tax on Thursday, with Twitter sentiment around the tax being 10 percent positive, 74 percent neutral, and 16 percent negative, according to Amobee.
Avocados weren’t the only Mexican import on people’s minds on social media Thursday: There were 39,700 tweets about tequila and 31,700 tweets about Corona, Amobee reported.
While Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham didn’t mention avocados, he certainly seemed to be opposed to any tax that would make it harder to buy some of America’s other favorite Mexican goods: