Louisiana Seafood Chefs Step UP!
(case study) Over 95% 0f America Was Afraid to Eat Our Seafood Following the BP Oil Spill.
Let that sink in for just a moment. If your business lost over 90% of it’s customer base, how long would you be in business? That was the real life scenario that unfolded on national televison and the internet 24/7 for months even after the well was capped for us. So how do you even begin to fix that?
Fortunately and unfortunately, through the Louisiana Seafood Board, we had a similar experience following Hurricane Katrina that prepared us well for this. Prior to Katrina (Pre-K), we did the TV demos locally and nationally with chefs to simply promote our seafood. A simple strategy that works very well. Following Katrina (Post-K), our appreciation for our chefs skyrocketed! The demos meant much more.
Do you remember when the City of New Orleans was dewatered from the flood following Katrina? A professor from Texas called our waters “Toxic Soup.” Despite the fact we received a clean bill of health for our waters one month following, for the fishermen that could still fish, it was as if a light switch was turned off on our seafood business nationally. Orders for our seafood stopped. $2 billion in sales started to evaporate almost immediately. And our culture and economy were at grave risk.
The “Toxic Soup” comment was the most powerful PR comment we ever dealt with, we just happened to be on the wrong side of it.
Turn Up the Volume
The most effective tool we had to work with were the relationships with our chefs locally and nationally. Not only did they help rebuild our city, they became champions for our fishermen and our seafood at every opportunity we presented them with be it TV demos or an event. Simply put, it took a consistent, sustained message turning up the volume with every opportunity that we created or that was presented to us. It took us two years to overcome.
The UNTHINKABLE Happens
April 20th, 2010 – our world was shattered. Lives were tragically lost on the Deepwater Horizon Platform. Three days later the rig sinks.
Deja Vu all over again, this time on steroids. Again, billions in seafood sales start to evaporate as the oil surfaces. One of the major differences this time was the time duration. The actual “Dewatering” of the City with the big pipe for Katrina was on TV for less than two weeks. The oil spill was on TV and the internet 24/7 for months burning horrific images into the psyche of consumers across the world.
Our challenge seemed insurmountable as it unfolded. Candidly, we didn’t know if we would even have a fisheries at one point. I remember all too well Chef Besh calling me and asking, “Will we survive this?” My answer at that moment in the very middle of the crisis was, “I don’t know.”
The day the well was capped was the start of recovery for all of us. Our seafood by that point had become the most tested food source in the world, so any product going to market was good. As we transitioned from crisis mode with the newsroom, we shifted into PR mode working with our chefs. After years of working with some of the best chefs from around the US, we galvanized our efforts by creating the Louisiana Seafood Chefs Council.
This became an absolute passion of mine working with the chefs knowing the powerful impact they could have. Not only did we cultivate a powerful PR voice, we build terrific friendships.
3 Years – Just in Time for Superbowl
With the help of the Louisiana Seafood Chefs and so many others, within 3 years we revived the brand of Louisiana Seafood for a second time, just in time for Superbowl XLVII in New Orleans.
The Louisiana Seafood Chefs were the genesis for Mission Chefs