The new pork promotion rollout took center stage at the National Pork Industry Forum. On the heels of celebrating the silver anniversary of the pork legislative checkoff, the National Pork Board introduced the roomful of delegates to the new promotional tagline: “Pork. Be Inspired.”

The new program will include national print and television advertising and public relations, social/digital media messages, retail and foodservice marketing efforts. The tab for the new campaign is roughly $25 million, about half spent during a 60-day campaign blitz that runs through April.

I’ve seen and heard the brand anthem video with audio accompaniment in an unpolished form. It’s tough to relate in print. It’s not exactly a jingle. Perhaps the best, current example is McDonalds’ “I’m loving it.”

These catchy little phrases are called mnemonic tools and they are designed to serve as a memory aid. The video clip features a series of pleasant, rhythmic sounds of meal preparation — chopping, mixing, clanking, tapping — culminating with family and friends gathered for a meal. Near the end of the video clip, the new “Pork. Be Inspired” tagline flashes on the screen with a satisfying three-count humming over-dubbed — as if you were humming (not speaking) the tagline.

The investment of checkoff dollars — your dollars — is the latest effort to move the per capita pork consumption needle from its seemingly stagnant position on the retail and food service dial. The five-year goals are to increase real domestic expenditures for pork by at least 10%, to increase fresh pork eating experiences by 10%, and to register a 10% increase in consumers’ perceptions about pork as a tender, juicy, flavorful meat protein option.

Doing the Homework

The agency charged with developing the new marketing plan began with an extensive consumer segmentation study that led them to a different consumer target of more than 82 million Americans who already cook, eat and love pork.

The study data helped set a new baseline target audience of 28% of U.S. households who eat 68% of all fresh pork consumed at home and about half of all fresh pork consumed away from home.

The focus of the campaign moves from “functional positioning” to a more “emotional positioning,” with a campaign voice described as “proud, energetic, approachable and unapologetically optimistic about the unique attributes of the world’s most popular protein,” explains Ceci Snyder, vice president of domestic marketing at the Pork Board.

The study sought out a deeper understanding of “medium to heavy” pork consumers who are comfortable with preparing pork; they are engaged cooks (but not “foodies”) who love a good meal, use a thermometer when they cook; they’re down-to-earth folks who are content with their health and lifestyle and optimistic by nature. Given more preparation ideas and recipe options, they would mostly likely eat more pork.

“We did our homework and the research has led us here,” Snyder declares. “Our research shows that pork’s top consumers are looking for more than basic education. They are looking for inspiration. With its great taste and versatility, pork is the ideal catalyst to inspire great meals. While our new target represents our biggest fans, we believe they have the potential and desire to enjoy pork more often — and to inspire others to do the same.”

The campaign targets a slightly older (35-64) and more diverse demographic than in recent years. “We are dropping our comparison to chicken,” Snyder explains. “Pork can stand on its own.”

The widely recognized “Pork — the Other White Meat” brand will be relegated to serving as a “heritage brand” and used predominantly on consumer Web sites and pork nutritional information. It will not be featured in advertising pieces.

Will It Fly?

When the “Pork — the Other White Meat” campaign was initially rolled out, quite frankly, I was not inspired. Why compare pork to chicken? I thought. We don’t even like chicken! But the catch phrase grew in recognition and stature.

So, I’ve gained some insight into matters of promotion and advertising, which can be summed up quite nicely as — these things take time. Again, McDonald’s melodious “I’m lovin’ it,” or Coca Cola’s past jingles “It’s the real thing” or “Things go better with Coke” were not overnight sensations. It takes time for these little messages to stick in our brains.

Given time and repetition, I think the positive message about pork is a good one. Going forward, there’s the temptation to compare the new program to the remarkable acceptance of the “Pork – the Other White Meat.” In the end, that’s probably not fair. Let’s give it some time.