The Pork. Be Inspired branding campaign rolled out by the Pork Checkoff in April appears to be on track in creating positive images about pork in the marketplace, according to John Green, director of Strategic Marketing for the National Pork Board.

“The campaign is resonating with consumers as a believable position and more specifically our tracking report is showing that those in our target who are aware of pork marketing efforts are more likely to describe pork as creative and inspiring. The tracking study is giving us confidence that we are on the right track with this campaign,” he says.

Notably, tracking results have aligned with scanner data from retail operators and the demand index computed by the University of Missouri that all point to consistent consumption “even in the face of rising pork prices that we have seen in 2011. We think this is really pointing to this long-term brand growth that requires loyalty beyond price, and this campaign is starting to build that affinity for pork that will hopefully outpace future price increases,” Green says during a webinar Wednesday in announcing the tracking study results.

In that vein, Green sees pork starting to fulfill changing consumer perceptions and meeting that unmet need of what the “ideal protein” should be through Pork Checkoff advertising and promotion.

That positive message is borne out by tracking data of 1,200 households who eat pork, including 900 in the target market. The results show marketing awareness by 58.4% of the Pork Checkoff’s new consumer target, vs. 41% from a comparison sample of pork eaters not in the target.

Specifically, 54% of those aware of pork marketing agree that pork meals make them feel creative, compared to 40% of those not aware of pork marketing, Green reports.

Television advertising of the new brand was recalled by 21% of pork’s target, while online banner advertising also showed very strong results in the new campaign.

The sampling reflected gender, age, race, ethnicity and U.S. Census data representative of U.S. households.

“Those results show the campaign seems to be gaining traction even though it is very young (two months old at the time the study was initiated), and that awareness of our marketing is still building,” Green remarks.

The tracking study was done in June and will be repeated in the late fall. The latter study will also encompass testing of some new and different advertising and follow several weeks of television advertising at the end of September into October.

The tracking study was not able to gauge the impact of the recent approval of a new cooking temperature for pork, says Ceci Snyder, vice president of Domestic Marketing for the National Pork Board. But early indications suggest that the modification has produced fantastic coverage in consumer magazines, and retailers are currently readying new materials at the meat case to educate consumers.

“Some packers are experimenting with including little instant-read thermometers within the meat package and having that available as a case-ready product at the plant that will create a lot of momentum,” she says.