PORTLAND — The global marketing firm Weber Shandwick was chosen by the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative (MLMC) board last week for a public relations, advertising, digital and social media campaign designed to increase demand for Maine lobster. The effort is funded by license fees from all lobster harvesters and dealers in the state.
“There’s a lot of art and a lot of science to marketing,” MLMC executive director Matt Jacobson told the Islander. “Weber Shandwick has the kind of data miners that can really help us focus our attention on those people that are likely to buy lobster. For example, what are the top ten cities where people buy lobster? We want to understand where, why and when people are already buying, so our marketing can be more strategic and less scattershot.”
Jacobson said that with more customers interested in knowing about the origin of their food, the story of the Maine lobster industry and the communities it supports will have an eager audience.
“We’re working with other businesses and the Office of Tourism to see where the overlaps are,” he said. “We’ve also got to keep checking back with our industry to make sure we don’t get ahead and take it places they don’t want to go. But if we can uncover new customers, that will help the supply chains and might be able to influence price.”
He said that in the few days since Weber Shandwick sent their own press release announcing the project, he already has received lots of phone calls from companies and groups interested in promotional partnerships.
A selection committee comprised of several MLMC board members and staff reviewed 16 proposals and visited six agencies before choosing two finalists to present to the full board and interested industry parties.
“Weber Shandwick demonstrated deep experience and success in a broad range of capabilities, from strategy and traditional and digital media planning, to brand development and public and media relations,” Jacobson said in a statement. “They built a strong foundation of trust and compatibility with us early on, and we are eager to move forward with them to showcase Maine lobster.”
Created in 2013 to replace the Maine Lobster Promotion Council, the MLMC is tasked with increasing the profile of the Maine lobster brand. Its board is appointed by the state’s lobster management zone councils and Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher. Bar Harbor town council chair Paul Paradis and Sonny Beal of Beal’s Island serve on the board.
“It’s a very diverse board, but works very well together,” Paradis said. “We’re from different backgrounds but moving toward the same goal. That’s what makes it fun.”
For a Class II commercial lobster license for 2015, a fee of $220.50 goes to support the MLMC. “We’re very cognizant of where the fees are coming from; that’s why the board is there, to ensure that the funds are used in a productive manner,” Paradis said.