Pork Industry Looks for Sizzle in New Slogan

US - By next year at this time, pork may be calling itself something besides "The Other White Meat."
calendar icon 11 June 2010
clock icon 4 minute read

The 23-year-old tag line has worked well enough in the past, National Pork Board Vice President Ceci Snyder said at the World Pork Expo on Wednesday, but new consumer surveys show that the line has little bite, according to DesMoinesRegister.com.

"There's no consumer reaction," Ms Snyder said. The pork industry is concerned about consumer backlash that pork lacks taste, she said.

"Consumers want healthy food, and pork definitely is healthy," she said. "But they want taste and variety as well, and we have to communicate that."

Wes Jamison, professor of communications at Palm Beach Atlantic University, has advised pork producers on the industry's image. "I tell the pork people that they're the Oreo cookie, caught in the middle between beef and chicken," he said at the expo. "That gives them an identity problem."

Ms Snyder said the board will continue to use "The Other White Meat" in a limited way to protect the trademark. But she gave no details about what the new campaign would say.

Motorists on Interstate Highway 35 who pass the pork board's Clive headquarters have long noted the "Other White Meat" sign. Pork board Chief Executive Officer Chris Novak said the sign probably would be altered.

Iowa is the nation's No. 1 hog- and pork-producing state, with 33 million animals marketed per year and a network of processing plants around the state. Cash receipts from hog sales total more than $4 billion annually in Iowa.

The "Other White Meat" line was developed in 1987 as pork's response to concerns about the effects of red meat consumption on weight and heart health.

Surveys show that since 1960, per capita consumption of red meat has dropped 25 percent. Most of that market has been lost to poultry and fish.

In response, pork geneticists have bred new lines of hogs that produce much less backfat, which for generations gave pork its fatty, greasy image.

"We've worked to produce a product that is much lower in fat," Mr Novak said.

But National Pork Producers Council President Sam Carney of Adair said he has heard complaints that the leaner pork now on supermarket shelves frequently lacks taste.

"We've probably gone as far as we should in taking fat out of pork," Mr Carney said.

Hog producer Bryce Engbers of Grinnell said he thinks the tag line has worked. "It's been effective, but it might be time for a change," Ms Engbers said.

Josh Fleming, director of interactive marketing for Lessing-Flynn Advertising Co. in Des Moines, said, "If the pork people are getting indications that the tag line isn't working well anymore, they're smart to start developing a new one."

Drew McClellan of McClellan Marketing in Des Moines said, "The pork people should ask themselves why the 'white meat' line isn't working anymore."

"Taste may be a problem," Mr McClellen said. "I was in my 20s before I learned that pork could taste good. The pork I ate before that was overcooked, and that ruins the taste."

Cattle producers plan to stick with "Beef: It's What's for Dinner," a tag line in use since 1992. "We just renewed our advertising campaign and there's no discussion of a change," said Meghan Pusey of the Beef Checkoff.

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