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How Long John Silver's is raising its profile

LOUISVILLE - Feb. 3, 2016

There's a media blitz in the works for Louisville-based seafood chain Long John Silver's Inc.

CEO James O'Reilly has been making the rounds with local and national media. National television commercials will roll out soon, and franchisees are being provided with tools to help them market locally.

And the company has come up with a sweepstakes and sweet slogan to go with the push: "Fish You Were Here."

Being a longtime Pink Floyd fan, I couldn't help but smile when O'Reilly told me about it yesterday while showing me an upcoming newspaper insert that features the phrase. For the sweepstakes, customers can enter by taking a selfie inside a Long John Silver's store and uploading it to LJSelfie.com. They could win one of three vacation cruises.

The ad campaign and the sweepstakes all are part of a plan to raise the company's profile during its busiest season: Lent. The religious period starts on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10, and continues until Easter on March 27.

O'Reilly has been steering the Long John Silver's ship for only about 11 months, but he sees the obvious business opportunity here.

The company has been developing promotions, implementing online training tools and conducting webinars and regional meetings about the campaign for about nine of his 11 months.

The company is working with Louisville-based RunSwitch LLC on the marketing campaign.

"Lent accounts for more than its fair share of our annual sales," he said, but he declined to disclose sales figures for the privately held company.

He did note that sales on Ash Wednesday, generally are 75 percent higher than a typical Wednesday. The company serves about 450,000 pieces of shrimp and 500,000 hush puppies on that day.

During the entire period of Lent, the company expects to sell 22 million pieces of fish and serve 81,000 gallons of tartar sauce.

Considering such figures, O'Reilly said this period is the best time of the year for the company to tell its story to customers. Consumers will see the ads on numerous channels, including AMC, HGTV, TNT, Fox, ION and TV Land.

"The Lent plan itself is the largest marketing plan we've launched in many years," O'Reilly said.

Read the Article on Louisville Business First Online