Olive oil usage in the United States continues to grow at a steady pace but, as many producers and marketers understand, it is still an uphill battle to educate the public about the health benefits and many uses of olive oil in the kitchen. The recent launch of the International Olive Council’s $1.7 million “Add Some Life” campaign hopes to support that effort by providing another marketing venue to spread the word. The campaign will run from mid-2011 through 2012 and comes at a time when “evoo” has become the media story of the moment - in both good ways and bad.
While the message of the product’s positive health benefits has finally penetrated consumer awareness, so have important stories of widespread fraudulent business practices. While the IOC’s $1.7 million effort cannot hope to have the impact that many multi-million dollar advertising campaigns for highly-visible food products like milk (the well-known “Got Milk?” campaign spends over $32 million/year), cheese or almonds do, it hopes to contribute greater awareness for the industry as a whole.
Jean-Louis Barjol, Executive Director, International Olive Council (IOC) provided The Olive Oil Source with an overview of the campaign’s goals and plans for the upcoming year. The IOC’s marketing effort may not overcome all the misconceptions that abound about olive oil, but any effort that educates consumers about what to look when buying olive oil and how to use it in the kitchen should be seen as a good thing for all producers.
What does the IOC hope to achieve through the “Add Some Life” campaign?
A key goal of the Add Some Life campaign is to promote the health benefits of both olives and olive oil while showcasing the versatility of each.
After Europe, the U.S. and Canada are the world’s largest consumers of olives and olive oil, but there still is room for improvement around consumption. While North American consumption of olive oil, for example, has slowly, but steadily, grown during the past decade, it still lags behind European countries, where household use can be as high as 80 percent or more, and people use it daily in their cooking. In the United States, particularly, we see an opportunity to reinvigorate the base of olive oil consumers while introducing new consumers to the category.
By emphasizing the high quality of both products, along with the taste and health benefits, we anticipate a renewed interest in olives and olive oil in the U.S. and Canada.
In the short-term, the International Olive Council anticipates an increase in consumer purchase, and in the longer term hopes to attract new consumers to both the olive and olive oil categories.
What does the IOC see as its major competition and how is it positioned to stand out in this market?
Our biggest competition is actually the consumer’s lack of understanding of not only the health benefits of olives and olive oil, but also how the depth and breadth of flavors offered by both products can add some life to their cooking and entertaining experiences.
What can olive oil producers and marketers in the U.S. expect to see by way of support from the campaign this coming year?
Because the IOC must ensure equity among all IOC members, it will not conduct any in-store programs or promotions that emphasize one brand over another. However, IOC encourages marketers to utilize recipes, cooking tips and health and nutrition information available at www.addsomelife.org to supplement their marketing efforts. We will be continuously updating and adding new information throughout the campaign and will be making it available through the website and our Facebook page.
Does this campaign hope to offset recent negative press about the distribution of fraudulently-labeled oils in the industry?
Because the International Olive Council is the worldwide body that sets quality standards for the olive and olive oil industry, it is our hope to raise awareness for the care that is taken by the olive and olive oil producers in each of our member countries to produce the highest quality products possible.
How do you plan to distribute the campaign’s message?
Throughout the Add Some Life campaign, the IOC will be using public relations to reach the target consumers throughout North America. In addition to our website and presence on Facebook and Twitter, the IOC will host tasting events for media in large media markets (New York City and Toronto) to help share deeper information about the positive taste attributes of high quality olive oil, and share updated news about health benefits of olives and olive oil.
Also, the IOC is conducting research audits of peer reviewed literature to develop white papers supporting the health benefits of both olives and olive oil. These papers will be issued throughout the campaign to health and nutrition influencers and media. In addition, a newsletter with updated research news will be issued to health and nutrition influencers and media throughout the campaign. The IOC will participate in key conferences to highlight positive health news as well, including the American Dietetics Association and Dietitians of Canada.
What was the logic to link olive oil to the fashion-centered world versus the food-centric world in your campaign launch? (Note: the campaign launch event coincided with New York’s Fashion Week and positioned olive oil as the “little black dress” of the culinary wardrobe)?
We identified two consumer groups we felt would be the most receptive to our messages and approach, based on their lifestyles and current choices in how they cook, eat and entertain. These consumers are women who are seeking healthful options and new food experiences. They also enjoy entertaining for family and friends. They are viewed as trendsetters and they value quality. Therefore, we see them as highly likely to use more olives and olive oil.
Like fashion’s “little black dress,” olive oil and olives provide versatility, flavor and on-trend health benefits to everyday culinary wardrobes. In the same way, we have “collections” of olive oils and table olives, similar to a fashion collection. And like fashion, today’s consumers have developed a taste for the latest culinary trends. Recent research conducted in 2010 by The Nielsen Company indicates food brands inspired by restaurants and celebrity chefs experienced double-digit growth.