The chain's latest edition of the annual event highlights one of TV's most popular shows.

For 12 seasons, Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” has been one of TV’s most popular shows, regularly averaging about 3 million viewers per episode.

Anyone who’s watched the show knows there’s much more to crab fishing than simply throwing a crab pot in the water. The courageous fishermen featured in the show have spent numerous nights away from home braving the unforgiving Alaskan waters.

In honor of its annual Crabfest event this year, Red Lobster wanted to bring attention to these fishermen, and have teamed with “Deadliest Catch” to develop an interactive experience, providing its guests a unique view into the journey of the crab from sea to table.

“Many of the boats featured on ‘Deadliest Catch’ are catching crab that end up on the tables in our restaurants,” says Mark Gilley, senior vice president, marketing at Red Lobster. “We were excited about the opportunity to make the connection and give our guests an interactive experience that helps them understand the care that goes into getting the highest-quality crab to their plates.”

To accomplish this, the Red Lobster marketing team worked with Discovery to develop the interactive experience, delivering a first-hand look behind the scenes of what goes into creating the perfect Crabfest meal.

“The experience takes the viewer through the journey of the crab with experts, including Captain Wild Bill from the Deadliest Catch and leaders from Red Lobster,” Gilley says. “It includes a custom microsite where consumers can join Captain Wild Bill on an interactive journey beyond the Alaska seas to the docks where his crab is inspected and processed, and then to the kitchen and ultimately your table at Red Lobster.”

Like most national restaurant brands, Red Lobster is challenged with keeping its annual events and limited-time offerings fresh and appealing to drive traffic through its doors, and Gilley says that as the largest restaurant purchaser of seafood in the world, Red Lobster wanted to do something different.

The partnership includes interactive videos and Q&As with Chef Dustin Hilinski, Red Lobster’s director of culinary, and Skip Frisz, Red Lobster’s director of purchasing. There’s also a 60-second spot of Captain Wild Bill discussing the crab-catching experience.

Although the company can’t disclose the volume of crabs it gets from Alaska, Gilley notes that Red Lobster has a long history of working with trusted suppliers in Alaska to source the best seafood.

“We have a lot of respect for the fishermen that risk their lives to bring Alaska seafood to our tables, and we continue to be a strong supporter of programs that contribute to the health, safety and well-being of the fishing fleet,” he says. “The program will run for a limited time throughout the summer in conjunction with our Crabfest event.”

The partnership fits in well with Red Lobster’s current marketing strategy, as it recently launched a new creative campaign, “Now This is Seafood,” which emphasizes the quality and freshness of its seafood using music and visuals to orchestrate the sounds of the kitchen and restaurant, coupled with fast-paced, multi-frame visuals that show the food from preparation to plate.

“Through this campaign, we’re telling a more holistic food story and reinforcing our seafood expertise,” Gilley says. “By partnering with the Discovery Channel and the ‘Deadliest Catch,’ we’re leveraging a cross-channel approach that brings this concept to life for Crabfest in an engaging and relevant way for our guests.”

For this year’s Crabfest, Red Lobster customers will be exposed to the largest variety of wild-caught crab offered all year, including two new types of crab—Dungeness and Southern King.

A special during the promotion is Red Lobster’s new Dueling Crab Legs, which pairs Pacific Northwest Dungeness and sweet Snow crab legs. There’s also a special Southern King Crab Leg Dinner. For those that like crab in combination with other seafood favorites, the Crabfest menu includes Crab Cakes and Crab-Oscar Salmon, Shrimp-Topped Crab Cake Dinner, and Crab Linguini Alfredo. A limited-time Three-Cheese Crab Dip is also available as an appetizer.

“We are excited about our new creative direction, and are confident we’re on the right path for the brand right now,” Gilley says. “In the future, our guests can expect to see other initiatives that will reinforce our seafood expertise and convey the care and preparation we take to deliver great food sea-to-table.”

Casual Dining, Chain Restaurants, Feature, Marketing & Promotions, Red Lobster