What do M&Ms and wild Alaskan salmon have in common? Celebrity chefs as spokespeople, of course.
When I first saw this M&M ad, I chuckled and thought, "What the heck are M&Ms up to now?" I then realized the M&M "shell-ebrity" I was staring at (pictured left) is Bobby Flay - one of the Food Network's celebrity chefs.
You can check out more M&M "shell-ebrities" here.
Food Network chefs are popping up all over the place these days. Even the Rachael Ray Dunkin' Donuts terrorist scarf fiasco hasn't curbed corporate America's appetite to hire Food Network celebrity chefs as spokespeople. Some of these campaigns are more well-received than others - sorry Rachael Ray.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has been fairly successful in partnering with all-star chefs. In 1999, the aquarium embarked on a Seafood Watch campaign encouraging visitors to make sustainable seafood choices. It built up various promotional channels for its sustainable seafood campaign, including an enticing program of chic food, wine and cooking events that appeals to the sort of high-brow crowd that grassroots campaigns and "save the world" petitions might not reach.
This year, Food Network's Alton Brown hosted the "Food for Solutions" gala and 55 local restaurants participated. Talk about cultivating community. In fact, forget about snuggly sea otters and terrifying great white sharks - Monterey Bay Aquarium now markets to any "foodie" or "wino" on the planet. It was even named a Tastemaker by Bon Appétit magazine this month.
Using famous chefs to talk about sustainable seafood to drooling crowds is a brilliant way to drive buzz around the aquarium's core message. It probably doesn't hurt fund raising campaigns, either. What an ingenious PR and Marketing plan! Just last week I read in an e-mail (btw, I'm an MBA member):
Thanks to you and other Seafood Watch supporters, we’ve succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. Major buyers, from Wal-Mart to Compass Group and ARAMARK, are shifting to sustainable seafood. We’ve distributed more than 24 million consumer pocket guides, created a Seafood Watch Mobile service, and won the allegiance of noted chefs across North America.
Lessons learned? Food brings people together. If you're looking to promote your next product or service, consider bringing in a Food Network celebrity chef, even if they don't belong. After all, they're fun, talented and family-friendly - what more could you need?