A three-month project that promoted Bristol Bay sockeye salmon in Boulder, Colo., boosted sales and is already expanding.

The $700,000 “Wild Taste, Amazing Place” campaign was spawned last September by the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, funded by 1,800 driftnet fishermen who pay a one percent tax on their catches.

“We developed a brand and a new look for Bristol Bay Alaska sockeye salmon, and a new consumer facing website,” said Becky Martello, executive director of the association. “Then we developed partnerships with retailers, processors and distributors to make sure everyone was on board.”

Bristol Bay Sockeye. Photo courtesy BBRSDA.

Bristol Bay Sockeye. Photo courtesy BBRSDA.

In partnership with Rising Tide Communications of Anchorage, the group also collaborated with food stylists and photographers to create snazzy point of sale items, in-ice signs, posters, recipe cards, digital ads and social media support, down to wrapping paper and stickers adorned with the Bristol Bay label.

A big part of the program, Martello said, was training people behind the seafood counters at three retailers to be champions of the brand.

“That went really well,” she said. “We educated them about Bristol Bay and the sheer size of the sockeye run, the unique habitat, and that by selecting Bristol Bay salmon, consumers are supporting individual, small family businesses. That message really resonated with our primary market of millennials and the secondary market of boomers who have that connection to their food.”

The project also hosted workshops and dinners for 40 chefs; 17 Boulder restaurants also featured sockeye salmon for a week.

The branding program was designed to be measurable and replicable. The results, made available this month, were very positive.

“Sales increased 8–14 percent during the promotion period, looking at year over year sales. That was a big win for us. The retailers were really pleased and we’re taking that to the bank,” Martello said.

One retailer plans to expand the sockeye promotion to 30 stores in several locations, and the next phase of the program will grow the program in Colorado and other regions.

“The feedback that we’ve been getting from processors has been really positive, and the fleet seems really happy. Ultimately, that is who we are working to help. If they’re happy, I’m happy,” Martello added.

The sockeye marketing materials are now available to fishermen, retailers and others who are interested and can be ordered online.

Laine Welch is an independent Kodiak, Alaska-based fisheries journalist. Click here to send her an email.

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