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Editor's Note: Celebrities sell fish

Property of SeaFood Business magazine
By Fiona Robinson, Editor in Chief
September 01, 2007

When celebrities or high-ranking politicians talk, people listen. And when they talk about seafood, marketers nationwide pray it stirs the pot for future piscatorial purchases. This issue's Top Story, "Looking to the stars," shows how state marketing boards like the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and individual companies like Rich Products are using celebrities and television to market seafood.

The most recent celebrities who may enter the seafood-marketing ring are Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Food Network celebrity chef Alton Brown, host of "Good Eats" and "Feasting on Asphalt." ASMI 
is still working out the details of its 2008 marketing campaign and the roles Palin and Brown will play.

Having a familiar face aligned with a product builds consumer trust. A recent Food Network and Discovery Channel addict, I find myself entering Dunkin' Donuts more often now that Rachael Ray is promoting it. I'm sure the same can be said for crab sales since the "Deadliest Catch" series started in 2005. While the show certainly doesn't teach viewers how to crack a crab, it does show the average consumer why Alaska crab commands a premium price and that crabbers in the Bering Sea truly have one of the deadliest jobs on the planet.

Celebrity chefs have a knack for making everything look simple, and when it comes to seafood, consumers need plenty of encouragement to try cooking it at home. There's a reason why so many chefs do well with seafood - it has marketing cachet. It's the only protein that's still hunted, and chefs love 
to spin tales about where and how the seafood was harvested. It's a lot easier - and poetic - to describe to a customer how a lobster gets to market than a chicken.

But when celebrity chefs start marketing personal-hygiene items, the trust begins to fly out the window. I don't need Emeril telling me vanilla-flavored toothpaste is the way to go. In my bathroom, peppermint rules.


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