The Eat Seafood America! marketing campaign, launched by the Seafood Nutrition Partnership and the Seafood4Health Coalition in 2020, has achieved an 800 percent return on investment, according to SNP.

The campaign, which was launched as a rapid response to the covid-19 public health crisis with the dual goals of helping Americans stay healthy and boosting the U.S. seafood sector, was already shown to have increased seafood consumption in the U.S. The campaign reached four million households and “outperformed benchmark campaigns,” with every dollar spent on campaign ads resulting in a $9 increase in seafood purchases, according to SNP.

“Showcasing how marketing seafood featuring its ‘healthy halo’ can be effective and trackable, the digital pilot campaign increased seafood sales and consumers reported increased consumption and intention to cook more seafood by three times,” SNP said in a press release.

The ESA! initiative generated more than 1.6 billion impressions, partially thanks to the Seafood4Health Action Coalition, a group of more than 50 non-profit and government organizations convened by SNP, which jointly created the campaign’s messages and which worked to share them online, resulting in more than 3,500 posts across various social media platforms. Additionally, grocery chains H-E-B and Raley’s extended the campaign into their stores, resulting in increased seafood purchasing, SNP reported.

The campaign’s messaging was based on the results of a survey of more than 10,000 American consumers that studied how covid-19, the economy, and other factors have impacted their food-buying and eating decisions. As a result of the findings, the campaign was focused on making seafood purchasing and cooking easy, and on the health benefits of eating seafood.

“By understanding where consumers are seeking out meal inspiration, how and where they are shopping, and what education is needed to empower them to eat more seafood, we can develop the right materials and target them on the right platforms,” SNP Director of Communications Andrea Albersheim said. “One example of this is a sharp increase in the number of people seeking meal inspiration on YouTube, where SNP videos have generated more than four million impressions. In the surveys, consumers who report seeing the ESA! messaging are two to three times more likely to have increased their seafood consumption recently.”

SNP said the campaign could “provide the building blocks” for a national seafood marketing campaign, an effort that is gaining steam with the creation of the National Seafood Council Task Force and its commitment to take on “the most-comprehensive, consumer-facing seafood marketing campaign in our nation’s history.” The task force is seeking $25 million in annual federal funding for at least five consecutive years for the campaign.

“The Eat Seafood America! consumer campaign is a fantastic example of how using a generic seafood campaign model focused on public health can produce tangible and trackable results,” Seafood Nutrition Partnership President Linda Lai Cornish said. “Imagine the positive impacts to the health and well-being of more Americans if we can scale this campaign.”

SNP is providing advice and input to the NSC Task Force, which is composed of industry leaders and advisors, including offering advice on garnering funding and creating a successful governing structure for the National Seafood Council (NSC).

“As the convening entity behind the development of a National Seafood Council, SNP will work to provide periodic opportunities for seafood supply chain stakeholders to be educated, informed, and comment on the ongoing work of the NSC Task Force. It is SNP’s intent that this transparent and deliberative process will help unify the diverse seafood industry around the generic seafood marketing concept focused on the public health benefits of seafood,” SNP said in a separate press release. “The intent of this process is to educate and help galvanize the seafood community around the concept of marketing seafood as a category, which will increase chances for securing federal funding needed to launch a National Seafood Council to conduct a national seafood campaign.”

The NSC Task Force issued its Initial Findings Report Dec. 15, following a meeting in September 2021, and is now seeking industry input into the proposed plan contained in the report, with the goal of building consensus around the effort of creating the national campaign. Representatives of the U.S. seafood industry can contact the campaign's director, Matt McAlvanah, at [email protected], to provide input.

“The National Seafood Council Task Force members see this unique moment in time for the seafood industry to grow the seafood category and we look forward to working together in 2022 to build a groundswell of support with the industry to lend their voice to secure federal funding for a National Seafood Marketing Campaign,” said Judson Reis, the former president and chief executive officer of Gorton's Seafood and SNP’s founding chair. “Now more than ever, federal policymakers, seafood stakeholders and environmental nonprofits have a unified interest in telling a more powerful story about the human and planetary benefits of increased seafood consumption. If Americans simply increased their annual consumption of sustainable seafood from 19 pounds to 26 pounds per capita, per health recommendations, we could drastically improve public health, foster a healthier planet, and create new economic opportunities throughout the seafood supply chain.”

Momentum for a National Seafood Council has been building since the first meeting on the subject in 2019. Other domestic food products have some version of an industry-wide marketing board that promotes domestic consumption – and the seafood industry had a marketing board as well, but it was disbanded almost 30 years ago.

Cliff White is the executive editor of SeafoodSource.com.

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