Legal Sea Foods' Ads Encourage People To Save Fish So We Can Eat Them

The seafood chain's newest ads are making some people uncomfortable, but they might be the most compelling argument for ocean conservation.

Don't save the fish so they can live long, happy lives. Save them so we have tasty seafood to eat for decades to come. That's the message espoused by a series of new commercials from restaurant chain Legal Sea Foods. A sample ad (see video below) implores viewers to "Save the trout. Save it to swim another day through golden brooks and sunlit streams. Or just save it so we can grill that baby up real nice."

Legal Sea Foods is no stranger to controversy. Back in January, we spoke to CEO Roger Berkowitz about his $115-per-plate "blacklisted seafood" dinner, featuring items condemned by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch guide. His reasoning: The organization's seafood assessments are inaccurate. Berkowitz claims that he is actually passionate about improving seafood legislation—after all, his business depends on a constant supply of seafood.

But Legal's new ads are still drawing ire from environmentalists. John Hocevar, director of Greenpeace Oceans, says in an interview with USA Today that "The choice isn't between putting fish on a pedestal or eating them, it's between reforming the way we produce our seafood or irrevocably degrading our oceans."

It's a good point, with one caveat: Most people won't care whether our oceans are degraded if they don't have a reason to. One approach suggested by Eric Johnson, a realtor at Sotheby's in San Francisco, is to talk about how we may lose our coveted ocean views if the ocean is trashed. Another, which is found in Legal Sea Foods' ads, is to discuss the potential loss of seafood dishes.

Legal Sea Foods' position on blacklisted fish is debatable. But the restaurant chain's latest series of ads is, at the very least, a fun, tongue-in-cheek way to raise ocean awareness.

[Image: Legal Sea Food]

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  • Freddy Nager

    Actually, this is a ripoff of a campaign by the Chesapeake Bay Program in 2005-2006 ("Save the Crabs. Then Eat 'Em). It's featured in chapter 1 and on the cover of the book "Social Marketing: Influencing Behaviors for Good (Third Edition)" by Philip Kotler & Nancy Lee. Look it up on Amazon and you'll see it.

  • Bette Boomer

    Sometimes you have to hit someone between the eyes with a brick to get their attention! Ugly but true.

  • Charles Maury

    Everything on the planet is here for us to enjoy. Hopefully we don't abuse the system! Fish aren't happy or sad. They just live. They don't have good days or bad days. If these ads make people pay more attention to the world around us and help preserve it for the future, then I am totally in favor of the whole thing! Saving the fish for the fish's sake - well, that's pretty stupid....Save it for the world to eat!