Gay cowboys, dead grandpas — and even Jesus — are all part of Legal Sea Foods’ latest advertising campaign.
The Boston chain, which has a reputation for fresh seafood and edgy marketing, is now likening the restaurant to a religious experience, complete with its own “Jesus fish” that features the word “Legal” written in the space created by the two intersecting arcs.
Legal Sea Foods’ version of the popular Christian symbol is already emblazoned on the top of cabs around Boston and in print publications.
Roger Berkowitz, the company’s chief executive, said the ad is not intended to make a religious statement. “I’m not really trying to offend anybody,” he said.
The campaign, created by New York ad agency DeVito/Verdi, is not the first one from Legal Sea Foods to push boundaries. A few years ago, the chain roiled the waters with its $150,000 marketing blitz that took aim at MBTA workers with lines like, “This conductor has a face like a halibut” and “This trolley gets around more than your sister.”
Television spots that began airing this week poke fun at how long it takes to catch a fish. One implies that a grandfather died on the dock waiting to reel one in, while in another a man throws his complaining wife overboard after seven hours together on a boat.
Then there is the shot of two fishermen together on a secluded beach who get closer to each other as the hours pass until one man turns to the other and asks: “Have you seen ‘Brokeback Mountain’?”
The voiceover at the end of each ad says: “It takes a long time to catch a fish. Spend some time with us instead.”
The television campaign is breaking in the Boston area for a limited time, and will expand its reach in November.
Meanwhile, the print ads take the form of paid obituaries of fictitious people who would have lived longer had they gone to Legal Sea Foods to eat more fish.
In one case, a deceased 92-year-old banker might have stayed alive long enough to tell his daughter where he hid the family fortune.