State planning salmon advertising campaign

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) The state is making plans for a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign aimed at moving canned salmon and building the Alaska salmon brand name.

The campaign is part of the $50 million salmon industry revitalization strategy Gov. Frank Murkowski announced in April.

Margy Johnson, director of international trade and market development at the state Department of Community and Economic Development, said it's possible that about $18 million could go for advertising.

Half the money will be devoted to generic marketing of Alaska salmon, and the other half will go to processors for their own marketing programs in the form of matching grants.

''I think we have a very unique opportunity there because the farm-raised fish is making everyone squeamish right now,'' Johnson said.

The state has worked to create an Alaska seafood brand for two decades, since the establishment of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. The goal has been to give Alaska seafood the same visibility enjoyed by generic brands such as pork (''the other white meat''), Idaho potatoes and Florida citrus.

The developing campaign for Alaska salmon is being run through the administration with help from ASMI.

The state of Florida spent $20 million advertising Florida orange and grapefruit juice last year, according to Department of Citrus spokeswoman Nicole LeBeau. The agency also spends money on public relations and health research, and contracts with the Richards Group advertising agency in Dallas.

The Illinois-based American Egg Board spends about $9 million annually on advertising, but its overall budget for advertising, research and promotion is about $18 million, said board President and CEO Louis Raffel.

The Colorado-based National Cattlemen's Beef Association spent $26 million on marketing last year, with half that budget allotted to consumer advertising such as the ''Beef, it's what's for dinner'' television commercials and print ads.

Carl Blackwell, NCBA's executive director of product marketing, said determining the target audience is integral to marketing.

''There's a lot of consumers out there, so if you didn't have a big budget, you wouldn't want to blanket the whole country. You'd want to find out where the demand for fish is highest,'' he said.

ASMI has some research underway to determine its target audience, but Ray Riutta, executive director of ASMI, said the audience varies widely with the type of product being pushed: fresh, frozen, canned or smoked.

Typically, the southeast United States is the largest market for canned Alaska salmon, Riutta said.

It's also still unclear whether the campaign will focus on American markets or extend overseas.

''We need to do some shoring up in places like Japan and an additional lift in Europe where we're getting a very receptive reaction to wild Alaska salmon. We'd certainly like to reinforce some of the growing interest in the Midwest. You just have to go where the processors are taking the product,'' Riutta said.

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