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Brand Development; The Fishy Idea that turned into a Brand: Bubba Gump

It is a downer returning home from your holidays. You know all good things come to an end. And you also expect a tedious wait at the airport and a tiring journey home.

So it was with squeals of delight that we discovered the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company at our departure airport. “That’s the company founded by Forrest Gump” shouted the little one. It is also a fabulous brand development story.

The Bubba Gump Shrimp Company

The neon sign first caught the eye. It shouts all American and come and look at me.

Bubba Gump Brand Development

Bubba Gump - Shrimp Co Logo
Bubba Gump 0Shrimp Co Logo

So what could a company that originated in shrimp fishing possibly have to offer? Lots more than we imagined. Firstly, merchandise. The little one tried on a snug- fitting t-shirt emblazoned with the company logo. In a trice she became a cool able seaman on Bubba’s boat. Then we found some shrimp plush toys. And lots of sporting goods including football jerseys, water bottles and also table tennis bats. All stuff connected to the Forrest Gump film. And also based on the novel of the same name by Winston Groom. As a result, the miscellany of stuff and colourful displays were irresistable.

 

Some Forrest Gump Sayings

So we had to discover more. The diner itself was like a shack. Wooden beams also held up a corrugated iron roof. In addition, three different ‘rooms’ decorated with US car number plates and signs also outlined simple morals or beliefs:

“When all else fails, try doing what the captain suggested”

“A promise is a promise”

“If the customer wants vanilla, give him vanilla”

Bubba Gump Market | Great Brand Experiences
Bubba Gump Market – Some of the sayings

The Bubba Gump Brand Experience

To get the waiters’ attention, we waved a “Stop Forrest Stop” sign. And when we were happy, we then displayed the sign “Run Forrest Run”. So we ordered “Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Heaven”. The choice was essentially shrimp or shrimp. Either boiled, broiled, fried, baked, sauteed, steamed or alternatively barbecued. But hey that’s the difference. The coconut shrimp were divine as were the shrimp balls.

Staff and customers at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. | Great Brand Experiences
Staff and customers at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Cancun, Mexico

With the family engaged, we enjoyed a happy hour reliving and conversing about the film. As the little one remarked; “this would be a great place to go with a first date.”

Marketing Inspiration

Turn ideas in a winning brand by evolving a compelling brand story, and also delivering a great experience

Every great business or brand starts with a great brand strategy or idea. The idea behind the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company are the characters yet also the content of the film and novel. From the Forrest Gump story thus emerges a heart-warming and distinctive business and brand proposition.

Use clever brand presentation to reinforce the core brand idea and thus attract and engage

Experiencing the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company is like peeling back the layers of an onion to reveal the magic of the brand within. Through attention-getting signage, to the fun physical environment and displays, to products and the people.

Build ‘a must talk-about’ brand experience by including magical moments

Combining lots of little things adds up to a memorable experience; one that you want to tell your friends about. The staff were also part of the fun; hence the reason they appear in our photographs!

Prove the business model and then drive rapid global brand development

Founded in 1996, The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co was proven in the US before expanding to Mexico, Asia and then the UK. At the time of writing there are 33 sites with sales per location of c. $5.5m per annum. Merchandise sales add value beyond expectations of a pure-play restaurant. The company’s website says, the idea was inspired by Paramount Pictures, and then turned into a concept by Rusty Pelican Restaurants. As a result, this led to a ‘licensing agreement’ based on the motion picture property.

Read about the National Geographic brand experience. Then to create and deliver a compelling and distinctive brand experience, check out our brand strategy services and also brand masterclasses.

The Bubba Gump Brand Experience

And as Forrest would say, “that’s all I have to say about that.”

Guy is a leading UK marketing consultant with a background at major brands and in the media. He is Founder of The Marketing Directors, a successful research and marketing consultancy working with aspiring and global brands in the UK and beyond. He is co-author of The Marketing Director's Handbook with Tim Arnold.

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