They say fish is brain food, but Legal Sea Foods advertising has sometimes been a little too smart for its own good.
Like this campaign from 2008 that ran on taxitops:
and on MBTA cars:
The campaign got Legal a lot of attention (good); it also got the chain into a First Amendment dustup with the MBTA (not as good).
Now comes a new campaign that’s got environmentalists all lathered up. From USA Today:
[Yesterday], the restaurant chain Legal Sea Foods [rolled] out three 15-second commercials that initially look like heart-tugging environmental public-service spots about “saving” salmon, trout and crabs — but pull a sudden switcheroo to suddenly become ads prodding folks to chow down on its seafood.
The campaign comes just months after deal-of-the-day website Groupon aired — then yanked — a similar campaign that included actor Cuba Gooding Jr. initially lamenting the dwindling whale population before admitting that instead of “saving” the whales he’d much rather observe them jump out of the water while on a half-price Groupon whale-watching cruise.
(You can see the series of spots in the USAT piece.)
The paper also reported that the folks at Greenpeace were a little red-faced, one of them saying, “The choice isn’t between putting fish on a pedestal or eating them, it’s between reforming the way we produce our seafood or irrevocably degrading our oceans.”
Fish on a pedestal sounds like an excellent dish for Legal’s bar menu, where verticality is a welcome feature.
Not to get smart about it.