The Super Bowl is a huge marketing opportunity for national brands, and this year the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board (www.louisianaseafood.com) will have some skin in the game. The board's latest national promotional campaign, launched last year, is being funded by BP as part of its response to the company's oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Along with local food company Zatarain's, the board is co-sponsoring the Super Bowl media center, which is expected to host 5,000 journalists from 20 countries this week.
: Representatives from the board traveled to last year's Super Bowl in Indianapolis. What did they learn that you're applying now?
Smith: What we learned was doing anything with the Super Bowl is expensive. The NFL has a lot of control over all the assets, and the price tag for doing something can go into the millions. We thought the most cost-effective way for us to get our message out is with the media center. It's not so much what the public will see, but the behind-the-scenes work. We're working with the influencers, trying to pique their interest in a bunch of different stories — a day in the life of a chef, meeting our fishermen, visiting a seafood processor.
: Is it significant that the contending Super Bowl teams come from coastal cities?
S: San Francisco and Baltimore are great food cities and great seafood cities, and that plays really well with the media stories taking shape now. It helps turn the spotlight on Louisiana seafood. Our job is getting the Louisiana seafood name out there and getting cameras to show people enjoying our seafood. When we can show that, that's as good as it gets.
: How important is the role that local chefs play in your marketing campaign?
S: I love our chefs. They've helped us after each crisis. When you give them an opportunity to shine, they shine. Our job is to roll out the hospitality, and our chefs are really good at that, maybe the best in the world at that. It's not just knowing how to cook the food, but they know how to make people feel special, it's how they serve people and talk with them, that's the hospitality they embody.