GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- D&W Food Centers brought back a pair of grilling comedians to highlight the chain's promotion of Alaska wild salmon, and again, the antics hooked the attention of local television and radio stations.
For the second year in a row, the 26-unit chain joined with the Juneau-based Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute in organizing the return of Mad Dog & Merrill, two guys who combine humor and grilling skills, to give its customers a taste of Alaska's Copper River sockeye right at the start of the season.
At D&W's Holland, Mich., store, a local television station did a remote broadcast with the pair right in the cafe that ran a full hour and a half.
"The [TV] station has this funny guy who does human interest stories and he just hit it off with Mad Dog and Merrill. The TV show was just remarkable," said Bill Bonzheim, the D&W's director of seafood.
In another media meeting, Mad Dog & Merrill caught and held the attention of a local radio personality with their madcap chatter about D&W and Alaska salmon and what fun it is to grill.
"What we thought was going to be a five-minute visit at the radio station stretched into at least 15 minutes. The DJ there is big into grilling so they got along perfectly," Bonzheim said.
The two also appeared on a talk show that morning where they sang the praises of Alaska wild salmon and D&W. All of the hoopla on the air and in D&W's stores added up to a lot of Copper River sockeye sales, Bonzheim added.
"For that week, we sold 3,000 pounds of it at each one of those stores where we did the demos. And that was at a pretty good retail -- $11.99 a pound for fillets."
Bonzheim said this year's efforts with the duo were more successful than last year, in part because the D&W reduced the number of in-store demos from four to two.
"It worked much better with just two stores. We were able to focus better. There wasn't so much setting up and taking down. This looked more like a permanent display, and I had them there from 10 in the morning till six in the evening," Bonzheim said.
"We had more planning time, too. So we did some tie-in merchandising with things like Emeril's marinades and grilling baskets from our general merchandising department. Customers are looking for that kind of stuff."