It's been a while since HBO's broadcast of the Season 6 finale of Game of Thrones and rabid fans are in a state of severe, prolonged, painful waiting until next year for the continuation of George R. R. Martin's bloody saga whose action takes place on the fictitious continent of Westeros. One Scotland fishery, however, has a tasty way to help them bide their time: Wester Ross, a tourist destination in northwest Scotland that's also home to Wester Ross Fisheries, a salmon-farming company that will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2017.
"At this year's Seafood Expo North America, our fishery's name being a sound-alike for Game of Thrones’ land mass was a hot topic of conversation, and we were teased about it," said Gilpin Bradley, managing director and majority owner of the company founded by his father, Robin, in 1977. "We told people, 'We're the other Westeros.'"
Today an eight-figure business with pens that hold half a million salmon at any given time, Wester Ross harvests its fish weekly, with 72 percent of its yearly total of fresh salmon targeted for export. About 45 percent of the company's total sales are U.S.-based. At this year's Summer Fancy Food Show, the largest specialty food and beverage show in the U.S., Wester Ross launched its Morefield Estate hot smoked and highland-honey salmon.
"Social media has played a big part in creating our brand, and pretty soon after the start of the show we knew we were onto something," Bradley said, noting that the Wester Ross Salmon tagline – "Hand reared in a rugged land" – parallels Westeros' extreme terrain and environments. "Our customers like to associate themselves with our Scottish heritage, and the Westeros and Game of Thrones connection has somehow spurred this notion on, even though there's no basis in fact between our name and Martin's universe," he said.
Although many food brands use made-up names, Bradley is all about letting consumers know that the salmon they're buying comes from a real place. Still, the Game of Thrones tie-in has been a boon.
"Our brand is much more memorable to consumers when they're able to associate it with something they know and love, in this case, highly popular television show with a massive following."