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Maine Fishermen's Forum Recap: Lobster Marketing Collaborative

The MLMC continually focuses on protecting the brand identity of Maine lobster. MLMC graphic.

Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative (MLMC) executive director Marianne Lacroix presented an overview of the Collaborative’s past year and upcoming activities at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum.

The MLMC began in 2013. Currently its annual budget is $1.5 million. It uses that budget to promote lobster sales within the United States alone. In 2022 the MLMC focused on three things: drowning out any negative noise about lobster and right whales; sharing the lobster fishery’s story and facts; maintaining the brand while driving up demand for Maine lobster.

During 2022, the MLMC concentrated efforts on generating positive media coverage related to lobstermen and right whales. It created a website (rightwhaleandmainelobster.com) to provide facts about the fishery and lobstermen’s perspectives. It also developed and shared messaging broadly about the fishery and its relation to right whales through fact sheets, webinars and paid advertising.

Marianne Lacroix. National Fisherman photo.

The Collaborative produced a five-part video series last spring on the fishery’s sustainability. "Sustainability at Work: Preserving Our Oceans” has received more than 4 million views. Additional actions related to sustainability included paid videos inserted into specific anti-lobster web pages, a letter writing campaign against Monterey Bay’s red listing of lobster in the fall, and targeted media pieces nationally.

The MLMC emphasized the human aspects of the Maine lobsterman through a broadcast media tour in 2022. Milbridge lobsterman Mike Sargent answered pre-scripted questions about the fishery and lobstermen for specific broadcast media, which was seen by more than 25 million viewers. In addition, a paid advertorial about the fishery ran in the Boston Globe in the fall, garnering 1.6 million impressions.

The Innovation Guide helps cooks use lobster in new ways. MLMC graphic.

The Collaborative brought attention to Maine lobster through innovative products using lobster. The MLMC’s Maine Lobster Innovation Guide focused on home cooks interested in new ways to incorporate lobster in dishes. In addition, items such as a Valentine’s Day Lobster Bouquet and a Lobster Roll Wedding Cake brought national attention to Maine lobster. During the summer, the Collaborative also launched its revised web site, which is designed to work well on phones and tablets.

In 2023 the MLMC will emphasize brand protection, product promotion and remaining flexible as the fishery copes with regulatory and economic changes. Lacroix noted that in the MLMC’s annual survey of consumers’ attitudes toward lobster, respondents remain strongly favorable toward the fishery. “Just three out of ten are aware of the whale issue,” she said. “Of those three, the preponderance still have favorable views of the fishery.”

Weber Shandwick public relations specialist John Siefort credited the MLMC’s efforts. “We are actually having a positive influence on the public despite some negative coverage. Awareness of the issue is consistently low and has not influenced consumer behavior,” he said.

The Collaborative will continue to generate positive news about Maine lobster through holiday promotions, National Lobster Day and Maine’s Lobster Week. It plans to create media content related to a day in the life of a lobsterman which would be used by a national publication. During the summer there will be a publicity campaign focused on the Maine lobster roll. In addition, it will focus on the stories of lobstermen and their families across all social media platforms throughout the year.

And last, but not least, the MLMC plans to take advantage of the current craze for TikTok. A culinary celebrity will go fishing with Jacob Knowles, a Gouldsboro lobsterman with a large TikTok following, and travel along the coast while posting the adventure on TikTok.

To learn more about MLMC, visit lobsterfrommaine.com and rightwhalesandmainelobster.com.

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