With demand for fresh salmon soaring, direct-to-consumer brand Secret Island Salmon needed a strategy to drive awareness because it expands its product line and starts courting retailers for the primary time. The challenge the marketing department set itself was determining the way to be edgy without going too far.
The company landed on leveraging a play on words as a strategy to position the brand as fun while also helping it control the narrative. The “F-word” campaign launched in September across owned media with slogans like “F*** it,” “These f****ers raise some legendary salmon” and “Happy f***ing is healthy f***ing,” intended to generate discussion and awareness about how the farmed salmon industry raises fish in a healthy and sustainable manner. Paid search and social promoting shall be added early next yr.
Brand awareness is up because the start of the push, while direct-to-consumer sales, earned media and audience on social media have “grown exponentially,” based on Daniel Del Coro, head of U.S. business development.
“We took our time developing this because we had to evaluate the danger of putting something equally aggressive and fun and sort of stake our brand positioning around this,” Del Coro said. “We took the higher a part of two to 3 months to brainstorm, and research what other brands have done much like this and our goal demographics and what their response can be.”
A healthy market
Secret Island Salmon is the Portland, Maine-based U.S. division of major Chilean farmed salmon supplier Salmones Austral. It understandably desires to capture a bigger share of U.S. salmon sales. As the number one-selling seafood item within the U.S., fresh salmon sales reached a hefty $666 million throughout the first three quarters of 2023, based on Circana and 210 Analytics.
The demand for salmon is soaring globally, because of rising health consciousness, the recognition of seafood-based diets and increased disposable income in various parts of the world, per Astute Analytica. With this in mind, after two years of online-only sales, Secret Island Salmon introduced a latest line of sustainably farmed salmon fillets, bacon, burgers and hot dogs to retailers at Natural Products Expo East in Philadelphia in late September.
To support the launch, Del Coro was in search of a marketing message that might engage retailers in addition to Gen Z and millennial customers in discussion and lift awareness about farmed salmon and its brand. Years ago, the industry garnered negative publicity because of high rates of antibiotic use, amongst other practices.
“A variety of the questions and concerns about farmed salmon are based on data sets or half truths or myths about when aquaculture began within the 70s and 80s,” said Del Coro. “So much has modified, but loads of brands haven’t said to consumers, ‘Let’s bring you in control.’ It is our brand’s opportunity to bring them in control with the appropriate information in order that they could make an informed alternative on whether or not they prefer to eat wild or farmed salmon — or each.”
The salmon man
The challenge was breaking through and grabbing the eye of ad-weary consumers. On the opposite hand, going too edgy could backfire, Del Coro and his marketing team at Portland, Maine-based Pulp + Wire recognized. So far, that hasn’t proven to be the case, with consumer and retail buyer response to the campaign being overwhelmingly positive, Del Coro reported.
“I haven’t had anyone say ‘I’m offended’ or ‘this isn’t your role,’” he said.
After seeing the favorable response at Natural Products Expo East and a seafood trade show this fall, Secret Island Salmon launched a comprehensive digital and social media consumer campaign across TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube that’s supported by emails to users and content on its web page.
Interaction on the brand’s social media accounts has doubled, if no more, per the manager. TikTok, especially, has been more popular than he expected. Although “not in his comfort zone,” Del Coro is starring in a series of fun but informative videos as “the salmon man” on TikTok.
The company is currently testing paid ads on several platforms prematurely ahead of a wider campaign roll out early next yr. As the product line gains wider distribution at retail in early 2024, Del Coro expects TikTok to be instrumental.
“Gen Z now uses TikTok greater than Google for checking out a few product and buying,” he noted.
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