By Christine Blank, SeafoodSource contributing editor
Published on 26 February, 2012
The USD 20 million Tuna the Wonderfish marketing campaign is being scaled back significantly this year, due to a spike in the cost of raw materials and other expenses by the major tuna processors.
The United States’ top three canned tuna brands — StarKist, Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee — and a consortium of Thai tuna processors opted to do away with the most expensive portion of the campaign, TV advertising, and take a different approach for 2012. The National Fisheries Institute’s Tuna Council launched the campaign in January 2011 with the goal of growing the canned-tuna category by reminding Americans of the product’s multiple attributes.
“We are really putting our focus on getting the [U.S.] government’s new dietary guidelines in front of physicians. The guidelines are very specific about the need to eat more seafood during pregnancy,” said Mary Anne Hansan, VP of the Tuna Council.
Initially, the campaign focused on the health benefits as well as the ease and convenience of eating canned tuna and using it in recipes.
In 2012, StarKist, Chicken of the Sea and Bumble Bee will spend USD 1.5 million instead of the USD 20 million spent last year on the Tuna the Wonderfish campaign. The next phase of the campaign — expected to start by May — will include public relations efforts to publications read by obstetricians/gynecologists, cardiologists and general practitioners, along with consumer media focused on health issues. While the Tuna the Wonderfish website will remain active, a new site devoted to communicating the U.S. dietary guidelines relating to seafood will be established. A complementary social media marketing effort will also be put in place.
Last year, the major tuna processors were “disappointed” with the results of the Tuna The Wonderfish campaign, said Hansan. U.S. canned tuna sales volume grew 3.5 percent for the first five months of 2011, according to A.C. Nielsen data. Of that volume growth, 2.1 percent was directly attributed to the Tuna the Wonderfish campaign, which was short of the group’s goal of 3 percent growth in the first five months of last year.
“There was some disappointment that we didn’t get all the way there,” said Hansan.
At the same time, 2011 was a difficult year for the tuna industry. “The cost of getting the fish alone was double or triple in some cases,” explained Hansan.
She added: “We were really interested in building out our whole social media efforts, but we understand the times we are living in. I’m pleased that we have the opportunity to continue to leverage the work with dietary guidelines. It’s a different approach, but I think it will be equally as effective.”