MLMC Head Steps Down

Matt Jacobson served as the Collaborative’s director for its first five years. MLMC photo.

In early February Matt Jacobson, executive director of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative (MLMC), announced that he would be leaving that position on February 25. Jacobson has served as the Collaborative’s director since 2014, one year after the body was created by the State Legislature. Marianne LaCroix, the MLMC’s marketing director, will serve as interim executive director while the MLMC board’s executive committee conducts a nationwide search for the next director. 
Prior to his tenure at the MLMC, Jacobson was president and CEO of Canadian National Railway. He also was one of seven Republican candidates for Maine governor in 2010. He led the successful drive in 2018 to secure legislative reauthorization for the MLMC through 2021. The MLMC is funded through fees paid by lobster harvesters and processors.
“Matt did a fantastic job for us. I’m sorry to see him go,” said Frank Gotwals, president of the MLMC’s 11-person board and a lobsterman based in Stonington. “The MLMC has a diverse constituency with sometimes competing interests. It’s certainly not an easy job.”
Since its inception the MLMC has focused its marketing activities on educating chefs and other leaders in the restaurant culture about the Maine lobster fishery story and the quality and flavor of soft-shell lobster, called “new-shell lobster” in its promotional materials. Through dynamic social media content and its “Maine after Midnight” events across the country, Jacobson and the MLMC board informed celebrity chefs and others about the distinct cultural and culinary qualities of Maine lobster.
“Under Matt’s leadership, the Collaborative established itself as a strategy-driven marketing force, spreading the Maine lobster story across the globe and managing everything from consumer education, chef events and media relations to issues management and stakeholder support,” said Luke Holden, MLMC board member and owner of Luke’s Lobster and Luke’s Lobster Seafood Company, in a press release.
In the fall of 2018, after reauthorization by the Maine Legislature, the board reviewed its marketing strategy. It decided to redirect its focus on food buyers, those who make the purchasing decisions for large entities such as resorts and grocery store chains. “We will be doing more business-to-business education rather than business-to-consumer. It’s education at the next level of distribution,” Gotwals explained.
“As we look for the next executive director, the board is confident in its ability to continue to drive forward the MLMC’s 2019 marketing plan as we approach peak season, ensuring the continued growth of the industry,” Holden stated.
“I feel good about our efforts to date,” Gotwals added. “We hope to have someone in place by April.”