MOBILE, Ala., April 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A grassroots movement has been brewing along the Alabama coast to reassure patrons of the safety of Gulf seafood as the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill looms. The effort is being championed by the Coastal Recovery Commission of Alabama (CRCA) and its successor organization, the Coastal Alabama Leadership Council (CALC) along with community and industry leaders along the coast.
The "Serve the Gulf" initiative was originally planned as a public service print campaign and grassroots effort supported by The Mobile Press-Register and Publisher Ricky Mathews, who also served as chairman of the CRCA. After hearing about the effort, the Alabama Tourism Department provided $300,000 in BP funds to expand "Serve the Gulf" statewide to support the Alabama seafood industry. The funds are part of a larger sum provided by BP last summer that was reserved by the department for advertising this spring.
"Serve the Gulf," which will formally launch April 15 with TV, print, radio, online and outdoor ads, sets out to communicate clearly that Gulf seafood is the most tested seafood in the world and has continually been proven safe. The initiative hopes to encourage consumers and businesses to support the industry that fuels Alabama's coastal economy by simply eating and serving Alabama seafood. Servethegulf.com acts as an online home for facts and links to research reports, and consumers can join the conversation on Facebook (www.facebook.com/servethegulf).
"The idea was to find a voice for the Alabama seafood community before the anniversary of the spill," said Chris Nelson, regional seafood community leader and Vice President of Bon Secour Fisheries. "We felt confident that if we got the message right, the movement would continue to build and new supporters would step forward."
Nelson, who is also a member of CALC, said "Serve the Gulf" fits within the initial mission of the organization, which includes the goal of bolstering Alabama's involvement in Gulf states' seafood marketing. CALC also recognizes a need to work toward a regional approach to marketing seafood, and Nelson said the Serve the Gulf campaign is an approach that could easily be expanded.
But while various leadership groups are championing the effort, Matthews said the idea for Serve the Gulf actually began with Alabama-based advertising agency Big Communications and its president John Montgomery, who approached Mathews with the idea.
"It simply needed to be done," Montgomery said of why his agency decided to create a marketing effort to support Gulf seafood. "After reading the CRCA report as part of research on another project, we were inspired to get involved and ensure the anniversary didn't completely reopen the wound right before another summer season."
Montgomery said it was during the development of Serve the Gulf that Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley announced the creation of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission. "We were thrilled to see that happen formally, and we fully intend to support the commission in any way we can," he said.
In addition to the advertising campaign, Mathews said The Press-Register is embracing Serve the Gulf as an ongoing community service initiative with grassroots activation in Mobile and Baldwin Counties. Mathews said the newspaper is issuing a challenge to other businesses in the community, asking them to embrace this initiative as well.
"What we are looking for now are restaurants, retailers, grocers, hoteliers, chambers of commerce and other businesses willing to embrace this call to action and take Serve the Gulf to yet another level," Mathews said. "We want this initiative to live far beyond this landmark anniversary, but we can't make that happen without more help."
Those who want to support Serve the Gulf can find out how to get involved at Servethegulf.com.
SOURCE Big Communications, Inc.