Squid Branding

Have you ever eaten squid? That slimy, rubbery, slippery sea creature that grows from one to 50 feet long?

Personally I’m not a big squid consumer — that’s big as in liking not size. I do like fried calamari once in a while but only if it’s cooked right and comes with a spicy sauce.

But this isn’t about eating squid. This is about purchasing squid to use as fishing bait. So don’t go looking for a recipe in this article.

Fish love to eat squid. There must be something about the scent of squid when it’s submerged in the water that just draws fish and makes them want to munch, nibble and ultimately bite. Squid makes a terrific bait for a variety of saltwater fish. To me throwing a hook with a big chunk of squid out into the ocean is like launching an advertising campaign. (This is where the marketing and branding message comes in so pay attention.)

I’m a surfcaster. Going down to the beach in the early morning and throwing a hook out into the ocean is always an adventure. You never know what might bite. You can try to strategize by measuring the ocean current, wave size, water temperature and tide height but these are all variables that change from day to day. That means there is no single approach that is guaranteed to catch fish. Fish are like consumers. They drift, swim and eat in different areas depending on the conditions around them.

The one aspect you do have control over is your bait. What will you throw out into the ocean to attract fish? Like advertising, what is the message you are going to throw out into the sea of consumers to attract and catch your fill?

In advertising and marketing we test our bait, or the message, before we commit. In order to arrive at sensible conclusions we fashion our messages based on the consumers we are trying to attract. Does one message work for every consumer? Of course it doesn’t. Every consumer has their own particular likes, dislikes and personal preferences. What we are looking for is a common theme that the bulk of our target market will at least attract. Hooking and landing them is our ultimate goal.

To catch sharks, skates, sea robins and bunkers, I use squid. Big fish like striped bass and bluefish will order squid but they’re lure lovers.

I noticed that the squid I was buying from my local fish store wasn’t catching anything. So I revised my bait and bought some squid from a supermarket. Same result. Zero bites, hits or even nibbles.

I was about to give up on squid when I decided to try one more source — an upscale market where the squid goes for $15 a pound. Was this squid any different than the squid from the fish store or supermarket? Of course not, squid is squid. From a marketing perspective it’s a commodity item.

The only difference with this squid is it’s association with an upscale brand name. I spent $2 to buy a single piece of squid and decided to try it out.

I put a piece on the hook, threw it in the ocean and “boom”, a hit. I reeled in a shark. I put on another piece and “pow”, another hit. I reeled in a skate. Another piece led to another shark and then even a bunker. The fifth piece led to a baby bluefish lying at my feet on the sand.

So what does this tell me as a marketer? Among fish there is a definite and demonstrative brand preference for squid.

That’s why we test before we cast our messages out there into the mysterious, unpredictable consumer ocean.

About nhbrownlee

Advertising copywriter, Creative Director and state of New York college professor. I love true stories. Who doesn't?
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