It may not be much to work with, but with a $1.7 mil­lion dol­lar allowance from the International Olive Council, the peo­ple run­ning the new “Add Some Life” pro­mo­tional cam­paign hope to at least make eat­ing olive oil a lit­tle cooler.

So in a thinly attended “press event” loosely asso­ci­ated (i.e. in the same city) with the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York, PR types mixed EVOO cock­tails Monday and invited Americans to see olive oil as fash­ion­able.

First-year IOC exec­u­tive direc­tor Jean-Louis Barjol, mak­ing his third trip here since start­ing his job last January, has deemed the United States a “top pri­or­ity” for his agen­cy’s pro­mo­tional efforts. But while Barjol called the cur­rent bud­get merely “a begin­ning,” he must have won­dered what effect a small gath­er­ing of food blog­gers behind Lincoln Center might ulti­mately have on the olive oil con­sump­tion habits of 450 mil­lion North Americans.

With a culi­nary pre­sen­ta­tion by a trade show-ready restau­ra­teur from Miami, Michael Schwartz, and an olive oil drink-maker named Ryan Goodspeed who, with his 6 Twitter fol­low­ers, almost seemed to have been cre­ated espe­cially for the event, early sig­nals that a well-known “celebrity chef” might be charged with pop­u­lar­iz­ing olive oil in McDonalds Country hit a real­ity check­point in New York.

Still, the gath­er­ing marked the inter­na­tional agen­cy’s first pro­mo­tional foray into the American mar­ket in over ten years, and any effort here is much-needed good news for the world’s pro­duc­ers weary from years of his­tor­i­cally weak olive oil prices and for­mi­da­ble chal­lenges.

In propos­ing a link between olive oil and high-fash­ion, cam­paign orga­niz­ers seem to be hop­ing they can set a viral spark among influ­encers instead of chip­ping away at the aver­age American’s utter con­fu­sion about olive oil and its prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tions.

And while estab­lish­ing the per­ceived value of olive oil by high­ligt­ing its unri­valed sen­sory qual­i­ties has been an indus­try meet­ing point lately in places like New York and Córdoba, most poten­tial con­sumers are far from Lincoln Center, and even far­ther from under­stand­ing the rel­e­vance of Fashion Week to their daily diets.

Flanked by A‑list EVOO mer­chants like Zabars, Fairway Market, and Dean and Deluca, New Yorkers on the Upper West Side already use a lot of olive oil and undoubt­edly know more about it than any­one clear to Davis, California. But fan­ning out to Wal Marts in Middle America can burn through $1.7 mil­lion pretty fast, even if it might ulti­mately result in greater under­stand­ing, appre­ci­a­tion, and con­sump­tion of such an impor­tant food.

But like the new olive oil shops pop­ping up in tourist trap loca­tions dis­pens­ing dec­o­ra­tive bot­tles of no-name EVOO for 90 dol­lars per liter like exotic curiosi­ties, the Olive Council’s cat­walk Monday seemed to send yet another con­fus­ing mes­sage at a time when sim­plic­ity and real value might out-res­onate aspi­ra­tional themes.


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