Simplifying Science is the Goal of New U.S. Marketing Campaign

At a California conference, the International Olive Council laid out its plan to translate the wealth of proven health benefits to growing consumer consumption.

International Olive Council deputy director Jaime Lillo
Jan. 22, 2018
By Andrea Adleman
International Olive Council deputy director Jaime Lillo

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If the overt goal of the International Conference on Olive Oil and Prevention of Chronic Disease was to present sci­en­tific find­ings, the under­ly­ing goal was to bridge worlds with words.

The California con­fer­ence show­cased the work of European and American aca­d­e­mics, who reported their lat­est stud­ies con­cern­ing olive oil’s effects on car­dio­vas­cu­lar health, can­cer, dia­betes, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and other neu­ro­log­i­cal and chronic diseases.

It was the first International Olive Council sci­en­tific con­fer­ence in the U.S. since 2001 and the spring­board for a three-year mar­ket­ing cam­paign titled the Olive Oil Promise.

Our pur­pose today is to bring all of the olive oil fam­ily to California, to the heart of American olive oil, to look to the future and send a strong mes­sage about the olive oil promise,” said Jaime Lillo, deputy exec­u­tive direc­tor of the IOC.

To these ends, the sci­en­tists will syn­the­size their find­ings into a report that will inform a con­sumer-fac­ing pro­mo­tional cam­paign to edu­cate the American pub­lic about the proven health ben­e­fits of olive oil.

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This is how we can fix the gap between aca­d­e­mics and con­sumers,” said Lillo. We believe there’s a lot of room for improve­ment when it comes to con­sumer knowl­edge of health benefits.”

According to the IOC, con­sumers tell mar­ket researchers they buy olive oil for health rea­sons, but can’t fin­ish the sen­tence to answer why.” Among the gen­eral pub­lic, there’s wide­spread unaware­ness of the data-based, sci­en­tif­i­cally-proven benefits.

When the Olive Oil Promise cam­paign launches in New York in June, the IOC says it will mark the begin­ning of a con­certed effort to increase U.S. con­sump­tion by demys­ti­fy­ing the health ben­e­fits and clearly defin­ing the ter­mi­nol­ogy such as extra vir­gin, vir­gin, refined and cold pressed that con­tribute to the confusion.

The goal of the Olive Oil Promise cam­paign, accord­ing to the IOC, is to deepen con­sumers’ appre­ci­a­tion of olive oil by com­mu­ni­cat­ing its ben­e­fits as a health, lifestyle, and culi­nary product.


© Olive Oil Times | Data source: International Olive Council


It’s a ques­tion of pack­ag­ing sci­ence for laypeo­ple, trans­lat­ing the per­plex­ing poly­syl­labism of polyphe­nols into plain phrases that make sense and sales.

The Olive Oil Promise cam­paign comes seven years after another IOC ini­tia­tive in the U.S. mar­ket that left more than a few promises of its own unful­filled. The 2011 Add Some Life” cam­paign kicked off with a Lincoln Center cock­tail recep­tion for food blog­gers dur­ing New York’s Fashion Week. In 2013, the IOC deemed the 18-month, $1.7‑million pro­mo­tion a suc­cess” although U.S. con­sump­tion barely budged over the course of the cam­paign and few in the indus­try had recalled see­ing any pro­mo­tional activ­i­ties arise from it.

The IOC’s exec­u­tive direc­tor at the time, Louis Barjol, said the impact would depend on the syn­ergy” that would develop if pro­duc­ers lever­aged the Add Some Life cam­paign with their own ini­tia­tives. That did­n’t hap­pen and the cam­paign’s web­site and social pro­files were inactive.

Much like the 2011 cam­paign, the approach of the new pro­mo­tion will be to tar­get influ­encers’ with spe­cial events and reg­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tions,” said Wendy Lane Stevens a pub­lic rela­tions con­sul­tant who works with the IOC. We really are look­ing for­ward to build­ing a data­base of peo­ple who are inter­ested in olive oil, health and the indus­try,” she said, adding that the chan­nels will include a web­site, newslet­ter, LinkedIn page and an influ­encer data­base.” The IOC has not pub­li­cally spec­i­fied the bud­get for the new campaign.

The United States is not a mem­ber of the International Olive Council, but it is the world’s largest olive oil importer and devel­op­ing the American mar­ket has long been a pri­or­ity for the Madrid-based inter­gov­ern­men­tal organization.

The UC Davis Olive Center hosted the sci­en­tific con­fer­ence just as it cel­e­brated its 10th anniver­sary.

Dan Flynn, founder and exec­u­tive direc­tor of the UC Davis Olive Center, got the last word at the con­fer­ence. Flynn left par­tic­i­pants with the Hippocratic part­ing advice to let food be thy med­i­cine and med­i­cine be thy food.”

A video of the con­fer­ence can be viewed here.


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