HuffPost called him “a total silver fox.”
Breakfast Television said he looks “hotter than ever.”
And the twitterverse couldn’t get enough, calling him “hot” and “a thirst trap.”
They’re just some of the reactions Canadians had to the revamped Captain High Liner, which came as part of a major brand refresh for the 120-year-old Canadian seafood company.
And they’re the kinds of reactions any marketer would salivate over. So, what can you learn from it all? How can you increase your odds of knocking it out of the park the next time your organization undergoes a rebrand?
“First, recognize what’s still working, and what needs fixing.”
The first step is recognizing what’s still working, and what needs fixing. And that truth comes from a frank evaluation of all areas with a consumer perspective in mind.
“High Liner is one of our country’s most beloved and trusted brands and the Captain plays a significant role in that,” notes Craig Murray, Senior Vice President Marketing & Innovation at High Liner Foods. “But he didn’t reflect our modern product line and our passion for seafood as well as he could.”
“We sat down with the agency and really took a look at everything,” says Murray. “Beyond marketing, we discussed our innovation pipeline and all of the new things we were doing as a company. Comparing that with positive, but perhaps dated consumer perceptions, we worked together to build our strategy and approach for revitalizing the brand.”
“The idea of killing the Captain had been discussed by the brand early on,” says Stacy Barr, Partner at Milestone Integrated Marketing, and AOR for High Liner. “But, he’s such a valuable and well-loved trustmark that the idea of losing him seemed crazy. He simply needed to reflect the modern direction of the High Liner brand.”
“From a strategy perspective, we wanted to change things up enough to make an impact," says Barr. “At the same time, we wanted to build on what we had and be careful not to compromise years of hard-earned trust and brand recognition.”
“Build curiosity and suspense. And be ready for surprises.”
From honest evaluations comes the ability to see what can be leveraged and what needs to be reimagined. From there, you can plan how to build some curiosity and suspense.
Prior to Captain High Liner’s official reveal, Milestone and High Liner ran a teaser campaign that asked Canadians, “Have you seen the new Captain?” The creative also included a countdown to the Captain’s big debut.
Images of the new Captain leaked online before the planned reveal, which got a lot of people asking questions. While unexpected, the agency and brand played along and used it as an opportunity to fuel Canada’s curiosity.
“The agency savvily played along,” said Strategy magazine.
“We were quick to join the conversation on social media,” concludes Barr. “We launched a cheeky #HelloCaptain hashtag along with the official image, and had fun answering people’s questions and replying to their comments.”
“After you launch, keep stoking the fire.”
Naturally, a brand refresh is much more than a single day. It’s key to stoke the fire and deliver on the sizzle you promised.
“We appreciate the attention and that people like him,” laughs Murray. “He is the same trustworthy Captain, but now people see him in a new light. His look fits our ‘young at heart’ personality. He reflects that we are a modern brand creating new and inspiring seafood products.”
High Liner is delivering on their Captain’s promise. This year, its 120th anniversary, the company is working closely with Milestone to launch new product innovation, introduce exciting new packaging, and build upon a new Seafood is Better positioning with fully-integrated marketing to help Canadians recognize the incredible taste, versatility and role of seafood on Canadian plates.
“We believe that seafood is better and we are delivering that message in all that we do,” Murray concludes. “We are on a mission to inspire Canadians to enjoy seafood like never before. We’ve loved working with Milestone and loved what has happened so far. And the best part is, we’re just getting started.”