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.