By Joanne Friedrick, SeaFood Business contributing editor
Published on 23 March, 2011
If the marketers have their way, this could be the year that everyone talks tuna. The Tuna Council, which is made up of the “Big Three” U.S. tuna canners, along with the Thai tuna industry, launched the Tuna the Wonderfish! advertising campaign in January, with the goal of growing a category that has been declining since 2003, says Gavin Gibbons, director of media relations at the National Fisheries Institute in McLean, Va.
Even though canned tuna is still the second-most popular seafood in the United States, Gibbons says that with the exception of a slight bump in sales between 2007 and 2008, the industry has watched sales slide for nearly a decade.
Thus, Gibbons says, “the group felt it was time to do a reminder campaign” touting the healthy and easy-to-prepare messages of canned and pouched tuna. Chicken of the Sea, Starkist and Thai tuna suppliers backed the program, which involves a TV campaign, print ads and online marketing. San Diego-based Bumble Bee Foods, which was acquired by Lion Capital in December for $980 million, is also a member of the council and a participant in the marketing program.
John Sawyer, senior VP-sales and marketing for Chicken of the Sea, says canned tuna “remains core to customers’ plans and consumers’ purchasing behavior.” The industry is seeing gains in convenience packaging, such as peel-and-eat cups and pouches, and both albacore and light tuna sales remain strong, “particularly in a difficult economy when consumers are looking for cost-effective protein sources,” says Sawyer.
The ads will run throughout the year, says Gibbons, and then the council will evaluate whether to renew the program or not. An out-of-home marketing segment, aimed at 20 health clubs around the United States, is also part of the Tuna the Wonderfish! program, he says.
In addition to a reminder about tuna’s versatility, Gibbons says the commercials take a light-hearted approach to delivering the messages of heart health based on its omega-3 content and weight management associated with tuna consumption.
Click here to view the rest of the feature on tuna. Written by SeaFood Business Contributing Editor Joanne Friedrick, the story appeared in the March issue of SeaFood Business magazine.