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Seafood giant Princes and Lucky Generals share recipe to turn more shoppers to tuna


By Sam Bradley | Senior Reporter

January 4, 2023 | 7 min read

Princes picked Lucky Generals to handle its seafood brand account at the end of 2022. How does the agency plan on helping the firm market through the recession?

tuna in the sea

Princes says it’s working to ensure more of its tuna is fished responsibly / Unsplash

London ad agency Lucky Generals picked up its second account from Liverpool-based consumer food giant Princes in as many months in December. Vickie Ridley says the team is “very lucky” to have won the business, this time for Princes’ seafood line.

The agency has been booked in to unlock the “potential” of the company’s brands, as the tinned tuna titan plans its route through a recession in the UK.

“We are at our best when working with clients on a mission, and as soon as we met Jeremy [Gibson, Princes’ chief marketing officer] and the rest of the Napolina and Princes teams, it was evident that was the case.”

‘We want to be a bit more ballsy’: why Napolina brought Lucky Generals on board

“We showed throughout the processes how we’d look to unlock the huge potential we believe these brands have through developing strong strategic foundations that led to defining, fame-driving comms. In addition, we believe that our proven track record with FMCG brands (from the nation’s favorite brew, Yorkshire Tea, to the UK’s fastest-selling ice-cream brand, Little Moons) likely played a key part in our success with the Princes brands.“

But marketing the brand to consumers in hard-up Britain may be a tough sell, with shoppers caught between a cost-of-living crisis that’s sending supermarket prices up and concerns over the environmental impact of large fishing operations upon ocean ecosystems.

Speaking to The Drum, Princes chief marketing officer Jeremy Gibson says its tinned tuna and seafood brands are set to receive a similar investment as the cash earmarked to push Napolina, its Italian ingredients range.

“We consistently invest in our brands to ensure we maintain awareness and affinity with consumers. Seafood is a significant part of our business, and we are proud of the strength the Princes brand has in the category. We will seek to maintain and extend this in the coming months and years, with specific campaigns focused on the varied credentials of canned,” he says.

Sustainable seafood

Good seafood is a key pillar of the great British kitchen, and British shoppers and home chefs care about the way their fish are caught. A 2020 YouGov survey found that half of Brits had changed their shopping habits due to concerns about the state of the seas.

Gibson says “we know that consumers are increasingly looking for responsibly sourced tuna options, and we recognize the crucial role that brands and retailers have to play in driving seafood sustainability by making more certified sustainable products available to shoppers.”

The fishmonger recently committed to only selling tuna that was sourced from sustainable fisheries accredited by the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) ‘blue tick’ by 2025. MSC-certified tuna sales have actually been dropping since 2020, and a recent survey by YouGov found some confusion among British shoppers about its meaning. Gibson says Princes’ backing can help popularize the mark as a sign of quality – and in turn, help the fishing industry transition faster.

“Princes is committed to reassuring consumers that the fish they are eating has been sourced sustainably and MSC certification is the best way of doing this. We’ll work to raise awareness in a number of ways, including the blue MSC eco-label across all tuna packs, alongside engagement with consumers in partnership with retailers in-store, and via our website and social media channels,” he says.

Recession pressures

There’s another thorn in the side of Princes. Its tinned tuna and seafood products are often priced higher than supermarket own brands. Even though it leads the category, it’s an uncomfortable position to be in when wallets are stretched.

Will the crisis affect the way Lucky Generals approaches this brief?

“Of course,” says Ridley. “It is vital that any approach we explore takes this very real cultural context into account and we pride ourselves on a deep understanding of the serious challenges our consumers are facing today. We’re lucky with these two brands [Princes and Napolina] because they are both geared towards democratizing good food, even on a budget.”

Gibson points out that the crisis may tip more customers away from fresh seafood and towards tinned products, which could benefit Princes. “The cost of living crisis is seeing consumers adapting their consumption habits, introducing more canned products as ingredients and whole meal solutions to manage basket spend.”

Furthermore, its products may see more demand due to the higher cost of other protein sources (like meat) and broader cultural movement towards pescatarian cuisine. The firm has altered its retail strategy to take advantage of that situation, he adds. “Going into 2023, we have secured feature space in several retailers, allowing hero canned products to feature to support consumers in buying cost-effective products, that are both convenient and high quality.

“Through our communications, we continue to help consumers make affordable, tasty meals for the whole family, especially important as the cost-of-living crisis continues. The canned recipes on our website and social channels include quick and easy dinner recipes, meat-free meals and affordable favorites, inspiring consumers to buy and cook with canned in new ways.”

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