Trade group soon to dive into tuna push

WASHINGTON: While "Got Milk?" gets its customary headlines (see story, opposite), another marketing body is hoping to get people to ask, "Got Tuna?"

WASHINGTON: While "Got Milk?" gets its customary headlines (see story, opposite), another marketing body is hoping to get people to ask, "Got Tuna?"

Consumers can expect to hear that question - or one similar to it - quite a bit next year, when the US Tuna Foundation (USTF) launches its first-ever general marketing campaign.

The 73-year-old trade association represents most of the US' tuna canneries and fishermen, but until recently has never had so much as a communications director. Now, with the consumption of canned tuna on the decline in America over the past several years, the group is giving consumer outreach a try.

Last week, the USTF hired its first communications director, Melanie Miller, who will spend the next several months developing the campaign.

Though much has yet to be worked out, she expressed confidence that the USTF and its members were likely to invest at least $1 million into what should be an expansive effort.

"Consumers have forgotten about how easy tuna is," she explained. "It's nutritious, economical, and always available, yet we always forget about the tuna fish we've got on the shelf when we fix dinner."

Miller predicted the campaign will likely focus on raising awareness of the health benefits of canned tuna, while providing "quick and easy ways you can have tuna in your diet a couple times a month.

"What we're trying to do is let people know that this is the safest protein available to consumers," she added. "That it's probably one of the best foods out there in terms of protein and omega 3s, and all the positive attributes of tuna fish that consumers have forgotten about."

A veteran of Ruder Finn and Hill & Knowlton's Washington offices, Miller was most recently executive director of the Partnership for Food Safety Education.

The USTF has no agency of record, though it has used Ketchum for project work, such as raising awareness of a study released earlier this year claiming tuna fish "may help improve your love life."

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