Chicken of the Sea International
The Jessica Simpson Spokesperson Decision
This case was written by Professor George E. Belch and Michael A. Belch. It is intended to be used as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation.
Chicken of the Sea International (COSI) is one of the oldest seafood companies in the United States. The company processes and markets a variety of seafood items under the Chicken of the Sea brand name including canned tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, crab, and clam products. The original company was founded in 1914 by Frank Van Camp and his son who bought the California Tuna Canning Company to can albacore tuna and changed the name to the Van Camp Seafood Company. However, the company began using the Chicken of the Sea trademark and brand name as a way to describe the taste of its tuna to consumers. Van Camp was the first company to can "light" tuna. So consumers would know to expect a mild-flavored white fish – that tasted similar to chicken – the company marketed it under the brand name Chicken of the Sea. It was such a success that the company eventually adopted the product name.
The company operated under the Van Camp Seafood Company name until 1963 when it was purchased by Ralston Purina, a producer of processed foods, pet food, and livestock and poultry feeds. In 1988 Ralston sold its Van Camp division to P.T. Mantrust, an Indonesian corporation that wanted to execute a fully integrated approach to supplying canned tuna to the U.S. However, due to high interest rates in Indonesia and its overly leveraged structure, P.T. Mantrust experienced cash flow difficulties and the primary creditor, The Prudential Life Insurance...