Cape Cod Times, February 16, 2020
By Denise Coffey / email@example.com
Goal is to set Cape Cod town’s famous oysters apart from increased competition.
WELLFLEET — The town’s name is synonymous with delicious oysters.
Their quality has been extolled for hundreds of years. Queen Victoria had them shipped to Great Britain for state dinners. Henry David Thoreau wrote about them in the Atlantic Monthly. Even globetrotting chef Anthony Bourdain praised the excellence of the Wellfleet shellfish.
Now Shellfish Promotion and Taste Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the industry in Wellfleet, has come up with a campaign to take advantage of the unique qualities of the town’s shellfish, especially the oyster.
Given the increase in shellfish consumption, the popularity of raw bars and the intensifying market competition among different brands, Wellfleet should capitalize on its shellfish, SPAT Executive Director Michele Insley says.
She and SPAT board member Nancy O’Connell presented their ideas for a marketing campaign to the Shellfish Advisory Board last week.
SPAT has spent $25,000 in the past two years on market research, brand strategy and logo design. It called in seafood marketing consultant Joan Francolini to research brand recognition and industry competition.
Insley said today’s consumers want to experience a brand.
“The marketplace has changed,” she said. “Consumers are seeking feeling as much as flavor.”
Couple that with the impact of influencers such as chefs, food bloggers and celebrities, and the town’s shellfish industry has to stand out from the crowd, she said.
It held marketing workshops and hired graphics designer and hospitality consultant Carla Siegel to create logos for the project.
On Feb. 10 SPAT unveiled the work done to date.
The outline of an oyster with what looked like a fingerprint inside the shell was coupled with the word “Wellfleets.”
″‘Wellfleets’ is the quintessential American oyster,” Insley said.
The word oyster was left out of the name to connect it to something bigger, she said.
The design and text were meant to conjure up something artisanal, reflecting the character of the community and the individual shellfishermen involved in the work, Insley said. The fingerprint is a mark of special care, a way to distinguish among the 150 harvesters on 90 farms who bring their yields of oysters, clams and quahogs to shore. From many producers and farmers comes a gold standard in shellfish, she said.
People want to know the story behind the product, Insley said.
In the audience were more than 25 men and women whose business it is to harvest the famous shellfish, not market them. Some liked the oyster design but not the fingerprint. Some liked the fingerprint because of the unique character of shellfish produced in Wellfleet waters.
Someone asked why flavor and taste were not part of the tagline. “That’s got to be in there,” he said.
“Enough about the salty, briny s**t,” Richard Blakely said finally. “They’re great. They sell themselves. We are the standard these others want to be.”
Advisory board member Zack Dixon agreed with Blakely but acknowledged the importance of marketing. Dixon is a shellfisherman who has spoken with chefs who told him how important “story” is to the dishes and menus they create.
“The Wellfleet oyster will stand up on its own,” Dixon said. “The marketing won’t hurt, it will help.”
SPAT plans to register the ideas as trademarks and create a website before it launches a full-blown marketing campaign. Insley would like that to happen before OysterFest in October.