The US Tuna Foundation, which comprises Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea, and StarKist, established two goals last spring.
It wanted to communicate health and nutritional benefits of eating fish - particularly canned tuna. It also wanted to combat misinformation about the safety of eating fish, which began circulating after the Food and Drug Administration put out an advisory in 2004 that advised pregnant and nursing women and very young children to limit intake of certain seafood.
Burson-Marsteller was tapped to help launch an education effort. Mary Crawford, MD of Burson's Washington public affairs practice, says the aim was to leverage science and facts to get the word out via media outreach and to combat the misinformation. "Multiple audiences are involved, and the general public and consumers are obviously one," she says. "But we're also attuned to working with [their] gatekeepers... in particular healthcare professionals."
The team set out to form partnerships and work with the journals and newsletters health professionals read. "The Tuna Foundation's Tuna Nutrition Council is composed of highly credentialed experts in health and nutrition, and we're building upon that to make it an even more robust third-party expert group and use those folks to spread the message," Crawford says. Along with education and media outreach, the team closely monitored media coverage.
"We have gotten a lot more consumer inquiries, people calling in, and a lot more hits on our Web site, and people are clearly looking for more information and access to a site where they can do further research," says Chris Lischewski, president/CEO of Bumble Bee Foods. The effort also has generated support from health professionals, including former Health and Human Services secretary Dr. Louis Sullivan.
Consumer education will be the focus going forward.
PR team: US Tuna Foundation (Washington) and Burson-Marsteller (Washington)
Campaign: US Tuna Foundation education campaign
Duration: Spring 2006-ongoing
Budget: $4 million to $5 million