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So thanks to Rev. Canon Dr. Jon Ignatius Lumanog for tweeting me regarding my original blog post that Legal Sea Foods wasn’t the first to focus their national marketing on Lent and the meatless habits of Catholics in our country.

I should have known that good ol’ American institution — McDonald’s — has an even older fish story related to Lent.

In turns out that 23% of all Fish-O-Fillets sold annually are consumed during Lent season.  Actually, the Fish-O-Fillet was originally created specifically for the 87% of McDonald’s customers who were Catholic — and thus observing the obligatory tradition of giving up meat for Friday meals during Lent.

What is interesting to me is that this seems like a typical bottom-dollar motivated story.  But another read on it would be that when almost 90% of your audience consciously tries to avoid meat during meals during a month every year, coming up with a non-meat alternative on the menu could also be seen as serving your customers (no pun intended!).

The other thing is that McDonald’s doesn’t make a direct, explicit appeal to Catholics or the religious calendar with its Fish-O-Fillet.   This seems a bit softer than the “get the most out of Lent” message from Legal Sea Foods we saw previously.

On the other hand, McDonald’s does ramp up its marketing for the meatless menu item during the Lent Season:

Apparently Catholics aren’t the only ones that enjoy Fish sandwiches on the McDonald’s menu since it is the only menu item that can be eaten at McDonald’s by people of some other faiths.

Is this like offering vegetarian options on a restaurant menu so that everyone who comes can enjoy something when you go?

So what do you think about all this?  PLEASE share your own voice and leave a comment below.

As we continue through Lent season, Easter is around the corner.

So what types of consumer marketed products comes to mind in our commercialized secular culture with this Holy religious season?

Cadbury Easter Eggs?

Marshmellow Peeps?

Go on, keep thinking. . .

How about LOBSTERS?

I just got an email from a merchant with suggestions for a new spin on the whole Easter/Lent marketing thing:

  • TRY PUSHING LOBSTERS FOR LENT!

easter-lent-marketing

I’ve never thought about or even recognized any other product categories that have pursued LENT-based marketing.  Have you?

Legal Sea Foods is a premium product, and they certainly aspire to excellence in their business.  Their company is not a slimy or take-the-shortcuts-in-business type enterprise IMHO.  So shady business practices (or marketing practices for that matter) isn’t something which I normally associate with this company in particular.  (I have no idea if the founders are Xtian or not).  But I have to hand it to them that this one is quite creative.

As Legal Sea Foods tries to position themselves as a prominent option for “meatless Friday dinner ideas” —  Are they doing a service? Or are they exploiting the religious calendar?


Legal Sea  FoodsI guess the question is where exactly are the boundaries for merchants to engage with those trying to live out their faith.

If you are ready to condemn Legal Sea Foods, what about the explicitly Christian companies that push other types of promotional Lent/Easter related products — like the re-purposed rubber wristbands as Lent reminders that I recently received at church — are these companies equally guilty of exploiting this community too?

My one criticism that does come to mind is that if this is *not* a simple ploy to exploit the church calendar, it would have been better to see the click through landing pages (or even a section on their site) helping their customers to explore the topic of meatless dinner alternatives. . . How about some sea food recipes? Or customer stories of their own family traditions involving friday night fish fry’s for dinner, etc, etc.  Once they become an actual resource, and not just a salesman, the authenticity in their communications efforts can really shine through.

Please leave a comment below with your thoughts on this issue.  I’m very interested to see what you think!