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NFI Board Balks on Generic Marketing; It's Back to Drawing Board for Task Force.

Don't look for any "Got Fish" commercials on US television this year. The board of directors of the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) has rejected the idea of a media-intensive generic marketing campaign for fish and seafood, and asked an NFI task force on the issue to come up with a plan based less on boosting demand than on building supply and improving the general image of the industry.

One of those attending the board's spring meeting in Washington, D.C. was John Filose, vice president of Ocean Garden Products and former president of NFI, who thought generic marketing was of questionable value to begin with. In a letter to the board April 23, Filose noted that the chicken industry is doing fine without such a program -- "I think that should tell us something!" -- and raised several other objections:

* Seafood isn't a single industry like beef, milk or pork. Consumers look on salmon, crab, catfish, live shellfish, shrimp, lobsters and so on as distinct and different products.

* Region-specific and species-specific programs already in place work well, as witness catfish; "We should be focusing on building these programs, and not on putting together a cumbersome, overlapping generic campaign."

* Any generic campaign would bring down the wrath of radical environmental groups, who could accuse the industry of promoting increased consumption of declining resources.

* Those much-vaunted generic campaigns for beef, milk and pork haven't really worked. Between 1987 and 1997, for example, beef consumption actually fell eight percent, from 69.6 pounds per capita to 63.8. Even the generic beef marketing program slowed the decline, that's "an incredibly weak endorsement."

NFI Executive Vice President Dick Gutting had this to say following rejection of the generic plan: "I think the content and objectives need to be more tailored to the needs of the seafood industry. We have different needs and objectives, and the goal of selling more seafood has come under strong challenge."

The task force will report back to the board this autumn with a new plan, and the board will then also have to decide whether to impose mandatory assessments to pay the estimated $45 million tab.
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Comment:NFI Board Balks on Generic Marketing; It's Back to Drawing Board for Task Force.
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 1999
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