Fishy Business: “Stop Running That Ad!”


The customer was obviously upset. She complained to the supermarket owner:

I was listening to news talk 1150 and heard your advertisement for “Fresh Atlantic Salmon”.  I just wanted to let you know you are pushing a product that almost every educated consumer knows is garbage.

It sounds funny that on the ad it says freshly harvested and flown into Spokane. You must think people are ignorant to what farmed salmon actually is.

Please stop pushing farmed fish and go with sustainable wild salmon. You do realize the farmed salmon have up to five times the legal antibiotics in their fish meal than what is allowed by FDA for beef?

Having ads like this really show marketing ignorance towards consumers.

It was signed “Educated Consumer.”

Now, this store also sells wild-caught Pacific salmon – the “right kind” according to the complainant – on a regular basis.  So the problem isn’t their failure to respond to their customers’ preferences.  It’s their failure to embrace this lady’s particular worldview.  And how does one respond to that?

(Sigh.)  You can’t please everybody.

I’ve been fortunate in that this advertiser has given me wide latitude in writing and producing his radio commercials from the beginning of our relationship.  And over the years his commercials have generated plenty of positive feedback from customers and peers in the business community (one of the advantages of doing business in a small town).  They also have won awards and given him recognition by his peers in the grocery industry.

More importantly, his ads have brought him business.  Local shoppers know what sets Dissmore’s bakery, meat, produce, fresh seafood, and other departments apart, because their radio commercials have effectively conveyed these distinctions.

Variants of the commercial in question have aired on local stations for the past six or seven years.  Here’s the current version:  

So, when the owner showed me what this particular listener (who may or may not be a customer) was complaining about, we discussed how he was going to respond to her.

I asked him, “How well does Atlantic Salmon sell in comparison to the rest of your seafood items?”  He got on his computer and called up the department’s sales figures for the last 12 months.

In terms of overall unit volume, Atlantic Salmon is #2, right behind fresh Pacific oysters, which are sold by the dozen(s) at a time.  Not surprising they should lead this metric.

But by the more significant criterion, dollar volume, Atlantic Salmon proudly heads the list.  It’s their #1 seller in the seafood department.

Imagine that.

Evidently, consumers like farm-raised Atlantic Salmon – well enough to make it the most popular single item in the seafood department.

I say again, you can’t please everybody.  No matter how hard you try.

But isn’t it nice to know that your radio advertising is working?











About Rod Schwartz

Rod Schwartz backed into a lifelong career in radio advertising in 1973 in Springfield, Illinois. He joined the Pullman (Wash.) Radio Group in 1979, where he worked until his retirement at the end of 2022. Since 1991, Rod and his family have operated Grace Broadcast Sales (, providing short-form syndicated radio features to radio and TV stations across the U.S. and Canada. Rod also operates an independent advertising, marketing, and communications consultancy for small business owners and professionals, An avid photographer, Rod shares some of his favorite images of the Palouse at and on his Viewbug gallery.
This entry was posted in Advertising (General), Awards, Branding, Business, Communication, Consumer behavior, Copy, Copywriting, life lessons, Management, Positioning, Radio Advertising, Radio Commercials, Radio Copywriting, Radio Production, Sales & Marketing, Shop Local, Storytelling, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Fishy Business: “Stop Running That Ad!”

  1. Leslie says:

    Those consumers like the “price” of that vendor’s farmed salmon. The metric does not suggest consumers given the option between farmed salmon or wild caught sold at the exact same price-point would still purchase the lower quality item. The lady who wrote in has a valuable point, if you want to think about all of this in a different way.


  2. Leslie says:

    Secondly… if his farmed raised salmon is already the #2 top seller in the store, wouldn’t this business want to use their advertising dollars to feature items that AREN’T flying off the shelves to inform consumers they carry other things?


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