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Bristol Bay launches marketing campaign to make brand as recognizable as Copper River

The pilot project took place last fall in Colorado to rousing success, says BBRSDA executive director.

The Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) is launching a new, refreshed marketing campaign in the hopes of solidifying the region's reputation for sockeye salmon and making it as recognizable as the well-known Copper River salmon.

The group launched a pilot marketing project in Boulder, Colorado, last fall, which featured a new, heptagonal logo of a sockeye, and a new website.

The logo was featured on seafood wrap paper, mugs and on seafood cases, and BBRSDA representatives were on hand doing in-store demos, a Bristol Bay restaurant week with chefs and the like -- all targeted at the millennial consumer.

IntraFish spoke with BBRSDA Executive Director Becky Martello about the project, which she said was a rousing success, and its plans for branding Bristol Bay as a force of its own.

What was the project in Boulder? How much was it and how was it funded?

We executed a pilot marketing project in Boulder, Colorado. We wanted to establish proof of concept for a successful retail program for refreshed Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. The end goal was, of course, to see a lift in sales at retail, but the project as a whole had to be a multi-faceted approach to make that happen. 

Is Bristol Bay the new Copper River?

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We established partnerships with retailers in Boulder; conducted retail training that educated seafood staff about Bristol Bay; worked with suppliers and distributors to ensure Bristol Bay sockeye was available; created a suite of point of sale assets that included recipe cards and posters, seafood wrapping paper and labels, ice signs and Bristol Bay branded aprons for sales staff; and we created rich vibrant content for consumers delivered via a newly redesigned website, digital ads that took Boulder shoppers to a unique landing page, and a strong presence on social media including a visually rich Instagram feed.

We also partnered with Chefs Collaborative and focused our efforts with chefs and restaurants right there in Boulder. Through that partnership we hosted a workshop for chefs, led by chef Kyle Mendenhall, at the Food Lab, hosted a public dinner with guest fisherman and board president, Mike Friccero, at Basta and that kicked off restaurant week in Boulder -- where Bristol Bay Sockeye salmon was featured on the menus of 17 local restaurants. 

All in, the project cost was just under $500,000 [€472,200]. All of our projects, including this one, are funded by the drift fishermen of Bristol Bay. A little more than a decade ago, the drift fleet voted to self-asses themselves 1 percent of the value of their catch to go toward funding the BBRSDA -- which works to improve the value of the fishery through efforts like marketing and promotion, quality enhancements, research and sustainability. 

How successful was it? What could you credit that success to? 

The promotion wrapped up near the end of November and once final sales data came in, our participating retailers saw an 8-14 percent lift in sales, compared year-over-year. I think there is likely no single reason for the success of the project, but many: first, the team working on this project (including staff, contractors and board members) have a genuine interest in the success of the fishery and our fishermen -- everyone worked hard to ensure this project was well executed; the willingness of our retail partners to jump on board and work closely with us to implement the promotion was key; and I also think the time is right for consumers to connect with the story of Bristol Bay -- taken together, it really was the opportune time for this project.

Why Boulder? Any plans with other cities?

Boulder was a good choice for a few reasons. Boulder is a highly active, health conscious demographic - this fits in well with the story, the brand and the product. It's also a small-ish sized city, making the project replicable for an organization like ours.

Our plans for expansion are still in development, but will likely be a regional expansion rather than a singular city.

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