Chef Michael Schwartz and Ryan Goodspeed at the launch of the “Add Some Life” campaign in September, 2011.

In its June newsletter the International Olive Council (IOC) called its North American campaign to promote olives and olive oil “a success judging from the constant import growth recorded since its outset.”

The 18-month, $1.7 million campaign was launched in September, 2011 with a cocktail reception for food bloggers in the back of New York’s Lincoln Center. The Minneapolis public relations firm hired for the campaign, Colle+McEvoy, came up with the slogan “Add Some Life,” developed an informational website and shared tips and recipes through Facebook and Twitter.

When IOC Executive Director Jean-Louis Barjol announced the campaign in July, 2011, he said its impact would depend on the “synergy” that would develop if producers leveraged the campaign with their own initiatives: “I am here to tell (producers and marketers) of olive oil and table olives ‘hey guys, we are going to launch a campaign. It’s up to you to make it more visible, up to you to add events with your own money around this event,'” he said.

In deeming the campaign successful, the Olive Council referenced U.S. Department of Agriculture figures that show, in the 12-month period ending October 2012, the United States imported 9 percent more than in the same period in 2011. The Olive Council did not specify how the relatively small campaign might have had such an immediate impact on the world’s largest market.

According to its ranking by the Internet traffic metrics service, Alexa, which provides a rough measure of a website’s popularity, the campaign’s website, addsomelife.org…, gets few visitors, and its modest reach on Facebook and Twitter make it unclear if the campaign’s strategy of reaching out to “influencers” gained much ground in building broad awareness of olive oil and its benefits. The last social media posts were on December 21, 2012.

When asked if she considered the campaign a success, Bernice Neumann, who oversaw the project for Colle+McEvoy declined to say, adding that the IOC would be the best judge of that. She also declined to detail the initiatives the campaign undertook over the 18-month period.

The firm’s website states “by reaching key influencers, the Add Some Life campaign helped increase retail sales of olives and bring the household penetration of olive oil in North America to an all-time high of 51 percent.” It also claims the campaign garnered “342 million impressions” over the 18-month period.

The United States is not a member of the United Nations-sanctioned International Olive Council, which is based in Madrid. Member states pay dues, part of which go toward activities to promote olive oil and table olives around the world.

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