Red Lobster: Mapping the journey to Crab Fest — Live from Member Meeting 41

Coverage of this session by Maria Villaseñor of Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

2:15 —'s Charlotte Bumbulis introduces Red Lobster's Brand Manager of Digital Marketing, Carl Allen.

2:17 — Carl: I'm going to talk about what we did with the Deadliest Catch and how we leveraged our partnership. Our challenge: How do you get an audience to listen to your sourcing story and want to visit your event on a limited budget? When you have to talk to your audience about your origin or history, most people believe it's made up.

2:19 — I'm part of the Red Lobster marketing communications: Communicate Red Lobster’s messaging priorities externally to drive visits and increase brand affinity. We're all about getting people to the restaurant. We're responsible for TV, website, search, mobile, etc. Are main buckets that we focus on for content is: Flavors of Crave, Guardians of the Sea, and Celebration Destination

2:20 — For Crabfest we focused on our strategy: to deliver a variety of craveable crab dishes offered only for a limited time. Our positioning focused on “Red Lobster’s Crabfest is back and better than ever” We tell that “Flavors of Crave” story through TV, in-restaurant promotions, online, everyone. But how do we let everyone know about our sourcing efforts. There really isn't a great way to tell it from a brand perspective that makes it credible.

2:22 — The solutions? Deadliest Catch and Captain Sig. For our core-target (quality traditionalist) Deadliest Catch is right up their ally. On TV, we've been advertising on Discovery Channel, so we have a great relationship with them. We actually filmed a 60-second bumper with the cast. The cast actually has their own agencies so we were able to work directly with the cast and build a relationship.

2:24 — Agency ideas gave us a good but expensive rendition of the story. But there was no engagement or credibility with it. The idea of telling the story was strong. When working with our agency, we made our desire clear, reused existing assets, leveraged partner assets with the cast, and used our remaining budget for new pieces.

2:26 — The result: The journey to Crabfest. Objective: a six-week cross-channel activation to tell the story of sea-to-plate, claiming credit where credit is due for our sourcing credibility and culinary expertise; giving guests and employees a chance to see firsthand where the journey begins.

2:27 — The first thing we did was bring the journey to a Facebook and Instagram carousel. Then we brought our spokesman, Captain Sig, to talk about the Red Lobster supply chain.

2:29 — In July, we re-purposed a 360-degree video from Deadliest Catch with a Red Lobster tagline that we were able to promote on multiple pages. We produced another carousel ad covering crab education. We also had some existing content that we re-purposed for different places.

2:31 — Campaign performance: Four times as many contest entries as previous 360 campaigns. 360-degree content engagement rate outperformed the rest of campaign. The campaign influenced purchased intent and likelihood to recommend. Deadliest Catch saw benefit from partnership as well.

2:33 — Qualitatively, we saw that our fans loved the content and trusted our story. Normally, we see Facebook as a spot for negative content, but we saw lots of people giving props and thanks to Captain Sig. A group called 4C measured TV advertisers as it relates to social performance. We saw that our social lift raised during Crabfest.

2:35 — These are the keys to success that I've found:

  • Start with a strong brief and stretch goals.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no.
  • Use what you already have and leverage it for more.
  • Relationships matter.
  • Lend credibility from celebrities, influencers, and partners.


Q: For social, what was the percentage of your budget?

A: It was about 70/30 media side, 50/50 production side.

Q: Who is your target audience for this campaign? Was this the same audience that views Deadliest Catch?

A: Most of the campaign was for 35 and older, middle income.

Q: For the winner of the grand prize, did you do any social media with them?

A: Yes, it's scheduled for outside of Crabfest. We'll follow up with the winner after the campaign ends and reference for the next Crabfest.