HASS AVOCADOS REV UP RETAIL PROMOTION

NEW YORK - Hundreds of retailers have entered a display contest sponsored by Hass Avocados From Mexico and have rallied behind a first-ever Hass-sponsored NASCAR team.The contest and sponsorship are both orchestrated by marketing company Preston Tully Group, Garden City, N.Y. The next race will take place in Richmond, Va., on Sept. 8, with driver Dave Blaney at the wheel of the sponsored car."To my

NEW YORK - Hundreds of retailers have entered a display contest sponsored by Hass Avocados From Mexico and have rallied behind a first-ever Hass-sponsored NASCAR team.

The contest and sponsorship are both orchestrated by marketing company Preston Tully Group, Garden City, N.Y. The next race will take place in Richmond, Va., on Sept. 8, with driver Dave Blaney at the wheel of the sponsored car.

"To my knowledge, this year is the first time any fresh produce item has been a sponsor of a NASCAR car," said Chris Tully, president of Preston Tully Group.

The multi-pronged marketing campaign is a continuation of a big push launched by Hass Avocados From Mexico last year when the U.S. Department of Agriculture lifted restrictions on the importation of the fruit.

This year, a flight of radio ads calls attention to the importer association's participation in the NASCAR races.

"We figured [the NASCAR sponsorship and surrounding publicity] was a good way to get maximum exposure, to reach an under-leveraged audience," Tully said. "We'll be reaching new consumers. We're attempting to make Hass Avocados From Mexico mainstream."

The advertising and marketing campaign is expected to reach 10 million households in eight markets. NASCAR races are televised on Fox, TNT and NBC.

While it's too soon to see how the NASCAR sponsorship and the advertising swirling around it will affect sales, promotional efforts have been successful, helping to boost total sales by 50% in each of the last three years, Tully said.

"We've been very pleased with the magnitude of retailer interest. There's lots of trade excitement about the display contest, too."

The winning store, which will be announced on Sept. 15, will get a good deal of exposure as well. The store will host an appearance of the car, which the marketing company dubbed the "Hasscar." The driver will be there, too, for autographs and photo opportunities. Then, for the last race of the NASCAR season, the retail chain's logo will be placed on the side of the Hasscar. The winning store's produce manager will receive a check for $1,000.