Media Watch: Are you ready for some seafood?


April Forristall, assistant editor

Published on
February 8, 2012

Betting and sports go hand-in-hand, as do sports and food. So it’s only natural that food is often the wager when betting on the outcome of a sporting event.

But it’s increasingly much more than a prize — it’s a promotional opportunity that can reach millions of consumers if it’s picked up by the mainstream media.

Take football. Last month, the mayors of Baltimore and Boston put seafood on the line over the outcome of the American Football Conference championship game. In the end, Baltimore lost, so Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake shipped crab cakes to Boston Mayor Tom Menino. Boston would have presented a lobster dinner to Baltimore had the Ravens been victorious.

During this year’s National Football Conference divisional playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints, seafood again was the prize, with Dungeness crab and Louisiana seafood up for grabs.

And it seems that consumers are following in the footsteps of politicians, as Boston’s Legal Sea Foods discovered the morning after Sunday’s Super Bowl. The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported that 25 percent of the seafood restaurant chain’s online orders after the New York Giants edged the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI were related to bets made on the big game.

Not only does the mainstream media reporting on these high-profile bets give seafood a lot of free publicity, but it adds value to the product.

“Obviously when you bet you’re betting something valuable, so it gives value to the product. It’s great PR on a national level,” said Ewell Smith, executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board (LSPMB).

The attention also boots seafood sales by putting it in the forefront of consumers’ minds as they plan the menu for the next big gathering.

“Anytime our brand is mentioned in the media it has an impact on sales,” said Smith. “When the mayor or the governor make the challenge it always gets picked up by the media, which helps our fishing communities all the way to the restaurants.”

Additionally, Smith said studies show that when a sports team is associated with a brand, it elevates the brand. So much so that the LSPMB is looking at using funds received in relation to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill to buy the naming rights to the arena where the New Orleans Hornets basketball team play. But, even if this doesn’t become a reality, Smith said the national media coverage that the proposal has already garnered is a help to Louisiana seafood, which is still working to restore its image after the oil spill.

“If the Hornets deal works our, our logo will be on the roof. People spend USD 3.5 million for a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl. But every time that blimp flies over the arena, our logo will be seen for a least a minute on national television,” said Smith. “The value of that is tremendous.”

Whether it’s a game-day wager or an arena sponsorship, it’s apparent that the relationship between seafood and sports is a touchdown.

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