There's no doubt about it, fish mongering is a dirty business. If you've been to Pike Place Market in Seattle, home to WOMMfest, you've seen the show over at the Fish Company. They toss salmon about, wrap up crab in seconds, and for years, they gave out free fun loving scares to anyone who got too close to an ugly, big mouth fish.
With fish flying and mongers shouting all around it, the monkfish sat quietly, patiently waiting for its next victim. Sooner or later, someone would spy the gaping mouth, the bugged-out eyes and teeth making it almost irresistible. They were lured closer and closer until WHAM! The monkfish suddenly jerked up and scared the living daylights out of the curious victim. A shriek followed by a hearty laugh. That was the monkfish's function; it's only function -- to make tourists laugh.
For years, workers would tug on the hidden string and the monkfish would do its thing, scaring the person who dared to get inches away from it for a closer look. It was a good gag that came to a sudden end when managers at the Pike Place Fish Company discovered monkfish are harvested off the floor of the Atlantic by bottom trawlers, a practice considered reckless and inefficient by ocean protection groups. Pike Place Fish Company serves only fish caught by sustainable practices, so it stopped selling monkfish and the mischievous mascot was gone. In its place popped up another gag fish that is less ugly but more sustainable -- unfortunately the rockfish didn’t appear to have as much effect.
It's because market workers loved the monkfish that they had to let it go, along with several other fish caught by methods deemed unacceptable. They claim to be, from their clams to their salmon, 100 percent sustainable. Even though the monkfish was just a gag and never sold for food, it was, they felt, a victim of bad fishing practices. After two years passed, the Pike Place Fish Company felt like it was missing an old familiar friend – that’s right the monkfish. But the company had built its talkable brand upon the ideas of mongering, sustainability, and flying fish, so how could it gain back part of its familiar brand experience without damaging its identity?
But today, the thrill is back. A monkfish is again startling visitors who recoil in laughter filled fright, but this fish is a fraud. Pacific Studio in Seattle made a mold of an actual monkfish and produced a Hollywood-style fake. Its skin appears slimy and real and it boasts the same menacing teeth and eyes of the real thing. It's a faux fish on a mission to frighten in a friendlier way and to really get customers and tourists talking.
So you’re probably wondering who cares about some ugly fish? Well the truth is that the monkfish gag became a talkable part of the Pike Place Fish Company experience. Don’t believe it? Take a look at the above YouTube video, search through the user generated content on Flickr, or take a peek at these creations on CaféPress t-shirts. Now don’t get me wrong, there are still many other parts of the Pike Place Fish Company brand that generate a buzz among it’s yearly visitors, but nothing generates a buzz like a good fright filled laugh.
Find out more ways the famous Pike Place Market Company fish mongers are tossing up word of mouth marketing to get their customers talking on February 19 during WOMMfest.
Let us know i the comments section if you plan on joining us at Seattle WOMMfest. Hear what keynote speaker C.C. Chapman was be sharing with this WOMMA TV exclusive.