Catfish campaign to add a political flavor

INDIANOLA, MS: Hoping to gain media attention as the national presidential election season unfolds, the Catfish Institute is launching the latest leg of an ongoing PR campaign, this time with a political theme.

INDIANOLA, MS: Hoping to gain media attention as the national presidential election season unfolds, the Catfish Institute is launching the latest leg of an ongoing PR campaign, this time with a political theme.

The institute will spend $2 million this year to promote the consumption of US farm-raised catfish. About half of that total will go toward a PR effort spearheaded by Fleishman-Hillard under the tagline "Campaigning for Catfish - Americans Rally for America's Fish."

Beginning in April at the 29th Annual World Catfish Festival in Mississippi, Fleishman and the institute will collect signatures from people asking that the catfish be named "America's fish." A website, Vote4Catfish. com, also will be created to gather votes.

The campaign will appear at various political events such as state caucuses and even the Democratic convention, where reporters will be served catfish, said Steve Dubinsky, VP with Fleishman in Kansas City.

"The goal is to use the campaign as a hook to engage the media in a discussion of the benefits of farm-raised catfish," said Dubinsky.

Petitions will be delivered to Congress in August - national catfish month.

Media kits will include the institute's platform on environmental issues, family values and other topics, Dubinsky said. "We'll take our message points and frame them in such a way that it fits this political framework," he said.

With a presidential election this year, "the media clutter is sure to be significant. We see this as a way to not have to fight the election clutter," he said.

The institute is in the fifth year of a PR push to increase consumption of US farm-raised catfish.

The amount of catfish that was processed last year increased 5% to 660 million pounds. Per capita consumption grew from 1.05 pounds in 2001 to 1.1 pounds in 2002, the last year for which such data are available, Dubinsky said. Catfish is now the fourth most popular fish in the US behind canned tuna, salmon, and pollack, which is used in many fried and formed fish products.

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