Legal Sea Foods sticks with witty ads

Boston-based Legal Sea Foods has launched a campaign featuring new TV commercials and print ads laced with dark humor and innuendo.

The campaign, titled “This Day in Fishing History,” present faux historic footage accompanied by unfortunate tales of what happens to fishermen after they sell their first fish to the “notoriously picky” buyers at Legal.

In one spot, entitled “Houseboat,” Captain C.G. O’Reilly purchased a houseboat to live out his life after achieving his lifelong dream of selling a fish to the restaurant. Narration states that the captain’s life was later cut short when he “went to get the paper and forgot his house was a boat.”

The campaign also includes print ads designed to look like real newspaper articles about fishermen who sell their first fish to Legal. One reads, “After 30 years as a commercial fishermen, Manny Santos sold a fish to the very particular Legal Sea Foods. He said, ‘This is my proudest accomplishment, completely outweighing the birth of my two children.’”

“The essence of this campaign is that we only select the freshest fish to serve at Legal Sea Foods,” said Legal CEO and President Roger Berkowitz.

“Given that, we wondered who would be most pleased by the fact that we are so exacting, besides our dining guests,” he added. “The answer is: The fishing boat captains who consider it a privilege and a cause for celebration to sell their catch to us. The message is serious, but our approach is entirely tongue-in-cheek, and some have expressed their disappointment with our humor.”

This is not the first time Legal’s ads have ruffled some feathers. Last July, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority pulled ads from its trolleys and buses, which contained playful insults such as “Bite me” and “This conductor has a face like a halibut.”

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