Marketing Reality TV Style – Northwestern Brand King Crab Legs

I’ve been waiting for this.  I was at Walmart the other day, and they are no longer just selling Alaskan King Crab Legs, they are selling “Northwestern Brand Alaskan King Crab Legs.”  If you’ve ever seen the Discovery Channel show “Most Dangerous Catch” which is about the treacherous Alaskan King Crab Fishery, you’ll recognize the Northwestern as the boat captained by Sig Hansen, a perennial top captain in the King Crab game.

I’ll avoid going into the show, it’s simply a reality show covering a few of the boats in the Alaskan King Crab Fishery during the season, which occurs in the winter in the Bering Straight.  It’s not work for the faint of heart…

The thing that catches my eye is this: the show has established the ships featured on it as individual brands.  I think of them as Nascar drivers…viewers have their personal favorites, and they very clearly identify with them.  This is a closed fishery, meaning that there is a highly regulated industry, with only a certain number of licenses allowed, so you don’t just decide to take your boat and fish for crab. So we’ve got a finite number of boats that fish, and a very finite season, which is documented on television.  Of course you’re going to want to exploit the brand that has developed!

Sig Hansen, as well as other King Crab Captains have become celebrities.  Check out this post in the Chicago Tribune Food Blog.   Then note carefully the following statement (which they may have paraphrased):

I was captivated by the gallantry of Hansen’s response to my question. “I respect the hard work you and your crew have done to bring us this food,” I said. “How best can I show that to you?” Said Hansen: “You’re doing it. By eating our crab, you’re doing it.

Note the phraseology (which probably wasn’t meant in this context).  “By eating our crab…”

I first noticed the crab legs in the freezer case.  Then when I got in line, the guy in front of me had a box, along with some other stuff that kind of denoted to me that he was preparing for the Patriots/Indy Colts game.  I pointed them out to my daughter, who also loves to watch the show.  The guy turned around and said, “I’m a huge fan too.  That’s why I bought them.”

What wouldn’t we do to get customer engagement like that?

On another note, while researching this post, I found that Walmart had been getting a lot of bad press in the past from buying crab from somewhat nepharious sources, such as the Russian fleet, and Chile.  In one fell swoop they answer those complaints in spades.

It’s pretty much a win all around.

3 Replies to “Marketing Reality TV Style – Northwestern Brand King Crab Legs”

  1. Mark, it not what you think it is, it not Alaskian King Crab, it Russia King Crab. From what I gattered this was an idea that was thought of from Trident, the processer that the Northwestern delivered to.

    This has become a very senstive issue between the various parties. Some people on the NW side are saying that Trident did it without his permisson, but people outside of the NW operation are saying that Sig did this on his own accord. But this leaves the fans, who want to support the fishery in so support the NW in the middle. We all have to wait when he get back to hear what has to said about it.

  2. Wow…I tried to research this via Google when I wrote this piece, and found nothing, esp. on the Trident site. If that’s the case, and I have no reason to doubt you, then it goes against everything that good marketing should be…

  3. Here is a link to two of the pictures of the box:

    Picture:
    http://i231.photobucket.com/albums/ee119/FastDannys/sig.jpg

    Here is a thread that is about it:

    http://www.beringseabadboys.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=258&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=

    Here is some thoughts of Eric Donaldson who runs the Crabroker.com website:

    This Is Eric. This Issue Has Nothing To Do With Trident Seafoods Who Sig Delivers To. This Issue Is Soley The Responsibility Of Sig Hansen Electing To Be Compensated For The Use Of His F/v Name And Family Name In The Promotion Of King Crab That Is Harvested In Russian Waters, Shipped To The Us , And Packed Here For Distribution To Retailers And Ultimately You The Consumer Under The Perceived Notion That This Is In Fact “northwestern” Crab. You Guys Make Your Own Judgement. Here Is A Fishing Family That Has Been Blessed With Notoriety, And The Financial Success Associated With That Notoriety, To Turn Their Cheek To The Rest Of The Alaska Fleet, And The Sustainably Harvested Resource That Has Supported Their Family And Other American Fishing Families In The Interest Of The Almighty $. In My Opinion, Shame On You Sig Hansen!

    There was some more thoughts about this on the NW forums, but the thread was moved to a place that nobody can view it. But this was all I was able to save about this issue.

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