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  • the BBC reported that the John West Salmon's "Bear Fight" videos have been viewed over 300 million times making it the sixth most viewed online video?

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John West Foods Ltd
Type Seafoods
Current owner MWBrands
Country of origin United Kingdom
Markets World
Previous owners 1888 – naming rights purchased by Pelling Stanley and Company
1964 – John West brand moved under Unilever corp
1997 – Heinz acquired the brand and John West Food company.
2006 – Heinz sold off the John West brands to the Lehman Brothers banking group

John West Salmon is a brand of salmon owned by the Lehman Brothers banking group. They are perhaps best known for their successful "John West Bear Fight" marketing campaign. In November 2006 the BBC reported that the "Bear Fight" videos had been viewed over 300 million times, making it the sixth most viewed video[1] (tied with Trojan Games and behind number 5, the Exploding whale video).

Other advertising campaigns have focussed on the long-running brand motto It's the fish John West rejects that make John West the best.[2]



The original company was founded by T. L. Pelling and C. H. Stanley, who created Pelling Stanley and Company in 1861. The company soon specialized in importing the then novel idea of canned food. By 1879, they were importing canned salmon from the John West company in Oregon, USA, the rights to use whose name they purchased in 1888; and the first shipments of John West Salmon appeared in 1892.[3][4]

By 1924 the three companies, operating separately, were all associated with Unilever:

  • Angus Watson and Co.
  • R B Green and Co.
  • Pelling Stanley and Company

By 1964, Unilever had merged the three into one company, John West Foods. Branches were expanded to Australia (now and Africa in 1974. In 1997, Heinz acquired the brand and John West Food company.[5] In March 2006, Heinz sold off the John West brands for EUR 425 million (£295m) to the Lehman Brothers banking group.[6] In 2006, H. J. Heinz sold its European Seafood Business to the French group MWBrands[7].

Bear fight marketing campaign

To increase their UK market share, in November 2000 John West canned salmon started a marketing campaign revolving around a viral video in which what appears to be a bear fights a fisherman for a fresh salmon. The video soon became a huge Internet meme, and by 2006 it was reported to be viewed over 300 million times, making it the sixth most viewed video online.[1]

The video was filmed on Invercauld Estate, near Balmoral, on the river Dee in the Scottish Highlands. Directed by Danny Kleinman created by Paul Silburn and voiced by Tony Clarkin (actor), the video campaign won a number of awards, including[8]:

  1. British Television Advertising Awards - "Best Commercial of the Year" (2001)
  2. Advertising Creative Circle Awards - "Winner" (2001)
  3. Intl. Food & Beverage - (Creative Excellence Awards) "FAB Award" (2001)

There is also a commercial for John West tuna featuring a man going inside a Mako Shark's jaws to pull out a tuna. The shark was captured and the man escaped with the tuna.

Video links

Sustainability Concerns

In August 2008 John West were assessed by conservation group Greenpeace as selling the least sustainable tinned tuna in the UK. Despite claiming that they ‘only purchase fish which is caught with no harm to the marine environment’, John West were criticised for indiscriminate use of destructive fishing methods leading to the decimation of turtle and shark populations. Greenpeace also noted that John West fail to show sufficient care in selecting healthier fish stocks.


  1. ^ a b BBC (27 November 2006). "Star Wars Kid is top viral video" (HTML). BBC. Retrieved 2007-07-23.  
  2. ^ John West home page.
  3. ^ Bernard O'Brien (2007). "The History of the Company" (HTML). Bernard O'Brien. Retrieved 2007-07-23.  
  4. ^ "John West - About John West - History" (HTML). John West. 2008. Retrieved 2009-12-01.  
  5. ^ prnewswire (30 June 1997). "HEINZ EXPANDS CANNED SEAFOOD BUSINESS WITH ACQUISITION OF JOHN WEST FOODS" (HTML). PR Newswire. Retrieved 2007-07-23. "Pittsburgh, June 30 - H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE: HNZ) today announced that its affiliate, H.J. Heinz Company, Limited of London, has acquired John West Foods Limited, the leading brand of canned tuna and fish in the U.K., from Unilever.

    "The addition of the John West product line to our European grocery business is another key step in Project Millennia, Heinz's reorganisation and growth plan aimed at strengthening our six global categories and delivering double-digit earnings growth into the next century. This acquisition will give us additional brand strength in Europe and it will enable us to further utilise our low-cost, high-quality tuna processing plants in Ghana and the Seychelles," noted Heinz Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Anthony J.F. O'Reilly. "Tuna is increasingly attractive to consumers as one of the most nutritious, high-value foods, rich in protein and lower in fat than chicken."

    Based in Liverpool, John West Foods Limited is a 140-year-old importer, distributor and marketer of canned foods, selling its renowned and respected canned fish products throughout Continental Europe and in a number of other international markets. (John West operations in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are not included in the Heinz transaction and continue to be a part of Unilever.)"
  6. ^ (20 March 2006). "Heinz rejects John West" (HTML). Retrieved 2007-07-23. "...Food manufacturer HJ Heinz will have one variety less to offer following today’s announcement that it has completed the sale of its European seafood business.

    The brands, including John West - famous for its advertising line ‘It’s the fish John West rejects that makes John West the best’ – were sold to Lehman Brothers Merchant Banking for EUR 425 million (£295m).

    Heinz chairman and CEO William Johnson said the sale was an important step in the company's global strategy to focus on growth in three core categories where it had strong brands: ketchup and sauces; infant nutrition; and meals and snacks."
  7. ^ MWBrands Profile,
  8. ^ Lucas, Dean (2000). "Famous Picture Magazine - John West Salmon Bear Fight" (HTML). Famous Picture Magazine. Retrieved 2007-07-23.  


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