Underwater Ivar’s billboards? New video “series” bubbles up

Our trail to that documentary-style video placed on YouTube by Ivar’s started with a post in the WSB Forums, wondering if the video solves the mystery (?) of the Ivar’s sign fished out of Elliott Bay off Alki last month. We had inquired two weeks ago with historian Paul Dorpat, who was mentioned in the initial reports, and here’s what he told us then when we asked “any idea whether it was real or some kind of hoax?”:

The sign is still in the hands of scientists. And they are also, I am told, out diving for the others listed on the map. I, for one, doubt that they will uncover anymore. Ivar would have come to his senses, or he may have only needed one for whatever designs he had. He was famous for chasing the Madrona Sea Monster in the late 40s, and even had a picture of it. I wrote about for an April Fools feature in Pacific. But this sub thing is another thing. You and I will have to wait.

Hmm, mysterious. And when we finally made contact with an Ivar’s PR rep a few days later, she just pointed us back to Paul. Documentary or mockumentary (we can’t help but recall the Jack in the Box Super Bowl saga, though Jack is nowhere near the memorable character Ivar was)? Only time – and tide – and (You)Tube – will tell. (P.S. Global Diving and Salvage, whose vessel Prudhoe Bay is featured in the video, is based in West Seattle.)

21 Replies to "Underwater Ivar's billboards? New video "series" bubbles up"

  • Leroniusmonkfish September 15, 2009 (3:03 am)

    Like I said before…

    Leroniusmonkfish said:
    08 / 22 / 19:14
    I smell something fishy here…the sign is too clean for the amount of time it could possibly have been submerged? The “Ivar’s” section is completely readable and I just don’t believe it…Also, how many divers have been in this area over the years and yet it was just now found? Ivar’s is also promoting some new up and coming chowders on their website…call me a skeptic but something smells of really good chowder here.

    Cute…RIPS “Rest in Puget Sound” Ivar…Seattle could really use someone with your visionary talents again…

  • GenHillOne September 15, 2009 (7:17 am)

    If only a quirky ad campaign, fun, but those official responses just took it to annoying. Ivar was interesting enough without lying, which is how I’m reading this. pfffft.

  • Been here a long time September 15, 2009 (7:21 am)

    If it is fact.. underwater advertising… Ivar was an original. I could see him coming up with an idea like that.

    If it is fiction… sort of fun a new way to promote a local icon restaurant. It’s more fun then other ads we have had over the years.

  • big gulps,eh? well, see ya later. September 15, 2009 (8:13 am)

    I was salmon fishing when they pulled the sign from the water. They proceeded to lower it back into the water and raise it again about 4 more times as they maneuvered it for better camera angles as it emerged.

    Every time they would re-raise the sign the crew would again start yelling and acting like it was the first time they had seen it. “Jackpot! This is the payday we have been looking for boys!”

    Good clean fun.

  • Christopher Boffoli September 15, 2009 (8:33 am)

    If the whole think is a hoax I haven’t seen a campaign as good as this since the buzz-building advertising for the Blair Witch Project. With so much dull, uninteresting advertising they definitely get points for creativity. And the execution of this is genius, right down to the cut-glass perfection of the vintage documents pulled from the Ivar’s archives.

  • Jeff September 15, 2009 (9:22 am)

    Fun, but has to be fake. Hauled my boat out of the water this summer after putting it off a little too long and it looked like a seaweed garden. Not much paint visible. And, unless the sign was made of stainless steel or fiberglass, I have a hard time believing it wouldn’t have corroded away to almost nothing after 50 years.

  • SarahScoot September 15, 2009 (9:53 am)

    I think I’m back in the “staged” camp after being tricked by the quotes from their historian. Here’s what I added in the forum discussion:

    LowmanBeach, I’m right there with you. It seems really staged, but they’re going to great lengths to make it look real. I originally posted this saying that it turns out it was all staged for a commercial, then looked a little further into it and doubted myself, as Ivar’s “historian” was involved – so, I edited my original post to say it was real. Now I’m leaning toward the stunt side again. Either way, it’s pretty great. :-)
    I *may* be able to find out more, as I work for a Seattle company that catches and supplies a large amount of the cod Ivar’s sells… but it sounds like they’re doing a good job of “clamming” up on this one.
    I e-mailed a coworker who works fairly closely w/ Ivar’s; I asked whether he thought it was real or mockumentary-esque, here’s his response:
    “I’d be afraid to ask! The folks at Ivar’s are very clever, and have quite a sense of humor – so I think it could go either way! I haven’t seen the ads but I wouldn’t put anything past them!”

  • quiz September 15, 2009 (9:59 am)

    Good stuff.

  • hopey September 15, 2009 (10:22 am)

    This isn’t just online viral. The Ivars ad — which I would characterize as more reality-show-style than documentary-style — broadcast during last night’s 6:30pm newscast on King5.
    P.S. *Love* the new comment editing widget!

  • Jocko Flagstone September 15, 2009 (10:37 am)

    Sorry guys – it’s not real. I work for a production company that bid on this ad campaign. We didn’t win the contract. But it is indeed a concept created by an ad firm, and a fun one at that (totally wanted this gig).

  • SarahScoot September 15, 2009 (10:42 am)

    hopey – that’s what I said in my forum post; that I saw the ad during Jeopardy last night. It’s a big campaign, that’s for sure. Maybe Ivar’s reallocated a bit of their Fourth of Jul-Ivar’s budget for this? (I know they planned on donating more to Northwest Harvest as well.)

  • SarahScoot September 15, 2009 (10:51 am)

    Jocko – thanks for the confirmation. The ad company and Ivar’s have obviously gone to great lengths to keep clam on this one. It really is a superb campaign, and Ivar’s is a company that deserves this much attention.

  • Christopher Boffoli September 15, 2009 (11:05 am)

    Back in New England fried clams are served whole (with the belly) as opposed to just the necks which are served here. Does anyone know why that is? What do they do with the tender, delicious bellies? Are there any places that serve whole fried clams in Seattle?

  • grr September 15, 2009 (10:43 pm)

    I think it’s staged, and done so, BRILLIANTLY. I love great advertising.

  • John Halverson September 16, 2009 (3:06 pm)

    I was out on a boat when the pulled they billboard out of the water and saw the board close up. What a find!! Just what you would excpect from Ivar Haglund! This is history in the making.

  • John Halverson September 16, 2009 (3:12 pm)

    That is when they pulled the billboard out of the water. We saw the board up close!!

  • iceefishpeople September 17, 2009 (3:15 pm)

    Ivar’s is damn clever!! If this is a stunt, it is quite well done. If it is not, it is even more cool.

  • Amanda Emily September 18, 2009 (3:12 pm)

    A single line on the fisheries letter Ivar’s uploaded on their site makes me question the validity of the purported age of these billboards.


    Unless the state department of fisheries was using old letterhead five years later, Arthur Langlie was the governor in 1954, not Monrad Wallgren.

  • Christopher Boffoli September 18, 2009 (6:00 pm)

    Good catch Amanda Emily! Sort of disappointing though that they went to so much trouble to make it plausible and then slipped on such an easily verifiable detail.

  • Lance October 5, 2009 (7:06 pm)

    I for one believe it’s real, but either way it’s a great commercial. Great in the same way the old Rainer Beer ads were great…

  • Paul October 18, 2009 (9:33 pm)

    I drove by the sign Friday night, right outside the mouth of the Fremont Bridge. The slogan “Worth Surfacing For” gave it away for me, gotta be a hoax. But a wonderful one.

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