Consumers go nuts over pistachio ads

FRESNO, Calif.

The "/*got milk*/" and dancing raisin campaigns set the standard for ag product promotion. Now pistachios are being given the celebrity treatment.

The ad campaign for /*Wonderful pistachios*/ has featured several famous faces. Paramount Farms Senior Director of Marketing Marc Seguin explained, "Characters like Snookie have large fan base. Chad Ocho Cinco has a huge fan base."

Seguin said the 15 million dollar campaign was a surprise hit and spawned a second set of ads. He said, "Wonderful pistachios were up over 200-percent in sales."

Pistachio producers want a bigger market share of the salty snack industry which is worth over 10 billion dollars. Seguin said, "It goes from 'I need chips for the game to I need pistachios for the game,' and so that's what we really like. We want to make the chip people nervous quite frankly."

Richard Matoian is Executive Director of the Western Pistachio Association. He said it's been a great year for growers. "The industry had its largest crop on record in 2010. We produced about 528 million pounds."

Matoian joined former Governor Schwarzenegger last year on a trade mission to China, Japan and South Korea. Rising global demand he says will be met as new pistachio acreage matures. Matoian explained, "40-percent of it in the state of California is non-bearing and those trees are going to start to produce we believe in the next 4-6 years."

In March of 2009 locally grown /*Setton pistachios*/ were recalled because of a salmonella scare.

The new ads have helped the entire industry recover. Seguin said, "We wanted to focus on the positive and pistachios and really talk about how fun they were and nobody had ever done that before."

Those pistachio ads are now running in Germany, Canada and even Iraq.

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