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“Deadliest Catch” and “Swords: Life on the Line” Sell Celebrity Seafood

Posted by on November 28, 2010 at 6:17 PM EST

deadliest-catch-time-banditDiscovery Channel fishing reality shows like “Deadliest Catch” and “Swords: Life on the Line” sell celebrity seafood.

If there is one thing in the world that can always be counted on it is that celebrity sells. It is this fact that causes companies to seek out celebrity endorsements for their products or causes them to pay high prices to hire celebs as a spokesperson or to lend their name to a product. Shoe companies pay millions for athletes to wear their shoes. Clothing companies, make-up companies and fragrance companies actively recruit and partner with celebrities to produce products with their name on it. Now that same idea is being applied to seafood, only instead of attaching a celebrity endorsement to the food, it is who caught the food that matters.

With the explosion in popularity of shows like “The Deadliest Catch” and “Swords: Life on the Line,” we suddenly find a world where those who work in the fishing and seafood industry are suddenly becoming famous. Ship captains like Johnathan Hilstrand of the “Time Bandit” have become famous thanks to the wildly popular show “Deadliest Catch”. On the east coast Linda Greenlaw is not only the only female swordfish boat skipper in America, but she is also featured in the Discovery Channel show “Swords: Life on the Line” and she was featured in the book and movie “The Perfect Storm.” She has also written several books.

Captains like Hilstrand and Greenlaw are now as well-known as some actors in prime time shows and have developed a huge following so some restaurants and stores have decided to take advantage of that fame by featuring food caught by them. Rod Mitchell, president of the Portland, Maine based seafood distributor Browne Trading Co. says that by attaching a known name to the product consumers get a better idea of who is catching the food, where it comes from and how it was caught. He goes on to say that normally you have no idea where the meat you are eating comes from, when you attach a captain’s name to it people become more trustworthy of it. The Linda Greenlaw brand of swordfish is now sold in many stores and several dozen restaurants nationwide.

Hilstrand is now marketing the “Captain Johnathan’s Private Reserve” king crab legs that are caught by his ship the “Time Bandit.”

These celebrity seafood brands can mean big business for stores. Hannaford grocery stories featured Greenlaw swordfish promoted by Greenlaw herself. In the first week of the promotion they sold 20,000 pounds of sword fish, about four times what they would typically sell. Rob George, president of The Crab Broker in Las Vegas has been selling crab legs caught by the ships on “Deadliest Catch” for a few years now. He often flies the skippers to his restaurants to meet the fans and says they are greeted like rock stars. From a personal standpoint, last year I went to a large, popular seafood and wine festival that is held annually near where I live. The captain and some of the crew from one of the ships featured on “Deadliest Catch” were their selling their crab legs and wine. While I can’t remember which ship it was, their booth was by far the most popular with huge lines all day long. Not only were people buying the crab legs, they were having the captain sign the paper they were wrapped in.

These celebrity seafood captains are finding new ways to sell their product and capitalize on their new found fame and everyone wins. The captains get to cash in on their hard and dangerous work and the consumer gets a product that they know where it came from as well as how it was caught and who caught it. As the popularity of these fishing shows continue to grow, I look for more and more celebrity foods to appear in stores and at restaurants near you. Many of these products are available online so if you are a fan, you can probably have their seafood shipped to you directly from their ship.



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