Fishy marketing that doesn't stink

Trigger warning:the following blog contains overtly cliched Australian slang and cultural references that may cause cerebral confusion to international readers. It also talks about meat. A lot. Because, meat. Vegans and vegetarians are advised to proceed with caution.


Fellow Australians, we’ve got a fishy protein problem.


We love our lamb, steak, pork, and chicken (winner, winner chicken dinner!). But fish? Too much hassle. We’re scared of wrecking it on the barbie and think it’s too hard to prepare.


Well that’s what the clever peeps at Clemenger BBDO found out when doing research for Seafood Industry Australia, anyway. And I gotta say, I’d add let’s not forget any fishy remnants stink up the garbage bin!


So, in a country “girt by sea” like Australia it’s an obvious opportunity to shift beliefs and behaviour, right? The supply is high, but demand is low.


Today we look at the fish industry’s first big marketing campaign in about 40 years. It addresses this simple but profound insight: Aussies think fish is too much hassle. The answer? It’s Easy As.


Take a sec to click and watch the amusing Easy As TV ad. For my American friends, be prepared for a cultural sensation, but don’t take it too seriously. 👇🏼👇🏼


As you watch, ask yourself: what emotions are they using to shift your beliefs and behaviour? What narrative are they using to connect with you?


What I noted is they’re not just talking about the taste of fish. Or even the nutritional value of fish (aka, product features and benefits!). That’s not by accident or oversight. There’s a pretty simple emotional formula for protein stories: make it fun.


Think about the annual Australia Day Lamb Ad. Always funny. Then we’ve been told to “get some pork on your fork.” Chicken and egg marketing always makes you smile with farmers hugging happy free-range chooks.


So what’s fun about the fish campaign? You can’t look past the hero in our story, a cheeky young bloke wearing a yellow Stackhat straight out of the 1980s. He’s riding an electric-powered esky and wearing a funky floral shirt. Couldn’t be more ‘summer at the Aussie beach’ if he tried.


Of course, we’re trading in well-worn Aussie cliches. Here we’ve got another white bloke next to a barbie, just like Hoges back in the iconic 1980s TV ad: “I’ll even slip another shrimp on the barbie.” Our Stackhat dude even calls out the obvious reference in the fish shop: “When it comes to an easy feed, we ‘experted’ that ages ago. Hey, Hoges?”



It’s fun, irreverent and reminds you of good times. But I couldn’t help wondering why we haven’t been told to feel good about fish for four decades?


Deeper feelings


Now it could be a stretch of the proverbial net, but IMHO, the Clemenger and Seafood Industry team has caught a big one: we’re all hungry for things to be simpler this year.


This isn’t a story about the ethics or effort of fishing. The simple problem is they want us to eat fish and feel good. If a likeable bloke selling other meats worked well, why not here?


For me, beyond the laughs, the core emotion captured here is feeling good about the simple things. And more broadly, this insight applies equally to life, business and leadership in the year ahead.


Contrast such simplicity with the complex, hard and depressing narratives dominating 2020. The year started with bushfires in January and went downhill from there.


For most of us in leadership, the undercurrent is how we can all adjust to more complex and difficult workplaces and home lives. In fact, Many of us work in sectors that are inescapably complex: banking, telecommunications, finance, education, health, government.


If I was to give all this a name, I’d say we have complexity fatigue.


Daniel Khaneman, the godfather of behavioural economics, says we live in a time when consumers are pushing back against corporate obfuscation. We expect simple language and demand high levels of consumer protection.


“I think one of the effects of behavioural economics is going to be that firms are going to be compelled to speak in plain English to their clients,” he says in this video with the United States Studies Centre. And this is going to apply to mortgages, it’s going to apply to health policies, it’s going to make a very big difference to peoples’ lives.”


Simplicity is an idea I explore in Beliefonomics, and elsewhere on my blog, and the subject of frequent conversations with business leaders and marketers in my agency. We’re tired of complexity. Tell me what you do without the jargon. Make it Easy As. Right?


Trouble is, simplicity itself is hard. As Mark Twain famously said,


The good news about this fishy marketing story is it’s an example of simple truth telling using the power of humour and nostalgia. And it impacted my beliefs and behaviour: I cooked up some mean barramundi steaks the other night, and once dinner was done I took the remnants straight outside to the bin, well away from my sensitive nose.


Our Australian Seafood industry friends are reminding us that fish is easier than we think, and by inference, so too are many other things in life.


That’s a decent sentiment worth carrying into the New Year. Try something new and you might be pleasantly surprised. I'm all for a come-back of the "easy as" phrase in our shared Aussie language. If nothing else, it means things have actually gotten easier, or we're so much stronger now that the rest feels easy by comparison.


All in all, I'm sure we can agree this is a fishy marketing campaign that doesn't stink.


Keep believing,





MARK JONES is a brand strategist, speaker and author of 'Beliefonomics: realise the true value of your story', available here. Find out more about his speaking topics and approach at www.markhjones.net and SUBSCRIBE to his weekly blog with insights for leaders on using the power of brand storytelling to shift beliefs and behaviour.

1 view

Copyright 2020, Mark Jones