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Best of NAMA 2022

When you're marketing a product with one of the nation's most memorable taglines, maintaining that recognition and keeping it fresh and relevant becomes a priority. It's a task that the National Pork Board (NPB) and their advertising agency, The Richards Group, take very seriously.

"Our research showed pork was viewed as stodgy, traditional and old fashioned," said Jeff Hartz, Director of Marketing Communications for the Pork Checkoff. "And that meant pork wasn't being considered by today's meal decision makers, who are looking for simple ways to make meals more exciting. We needed to adjust our image, and raise awareness of pork as an everyday meal option — we needed to break out of our special occasion status."

With this in mind, NPB and The Richards Group launched the Don't be blah campaign in 2005, with a focus on making pork more contemporary and everyday. Instead of just being pork chops with applesauce, like your grandma made on Sunday, Don't be blah positions pork as exciting, versatile, and nutritious — a quick everyday meal solution for families on the go.

"In planning the Don't be blah campaign, we really focused on the people putting dinner on the table every night," said David Morring, Creative Director at The Richards Group. "Sometimes they feel like they're in a rut, serving the same few dishes over and over. That's boring — it's blah. It was important to show them that breaking out of this routine was as easy as simply cooking more pork. No one wants to be a blah friend or a blah spouse — and no one wants to be a blah cook either."

The Don't be blah campaign's media plan demonstrates that brand behavior can be just important as the message itself. In addition to print, online, television and radio advertising, the campaign includes some exciting and unexpected media choices. For instance, consumers in target markets have seen ads that appear to be personal ads in newspapers, cinema advertising before movies, and even advertising on
gallon jugs of milk, reminding consumers to choose The Other White Meat and providing a recipe for

Thus far, campaign results show that Don't be blah
is a success. A 24-month analysis shows significant increases in several key measurements. In markets where the campaign is active, target consumers increasingly say The Other White Meat "Is something my family enjoys eating," +18%; "Is on my mental shopping list," +15%; and "Is something I keep stocked in my refrigerator or freezer," +22%. Further, economic analysis conducted by Texas A&M's Ag Economics Department showed that over the first 20 months of campaign activity, the work generated $73 million in consumer sales.

"Just like the rest of America, food service operators and chefs are overwhelmed with commercial messages," said Hartz. "So when we set out to introduce four new cuts of pork, we tried to do it in a little different and more exciting way. The result of that effort is The Other White Album. The piece is very on-brand for us; it fits our greater campaign well."

The Other White Album has three components — a refresher on existing cuts of pork entitled "The Best of Pork;" an introduction to four new cuts called, "Hot New Cuts;" and a pull-out poster featuring both the "Hot New Cuts" and "The Best of Pork." All three components are cleverly packaged to look like a traditional record, right down to the white record sleeve and cover art featuring a rocking ensemble of pork chop musicians playing to a raucous crowd of silverware fans.

"The Best of Pork" features sharp graphics of actual cuts of pork showcased side-by-side with images of meals and recipes for the cut. Photos of back ribs, spare ribs and St. Louis-style ribs lay next to pictures of "Sunshine Baby Back Ribs" and an "Asian Rib Bowl," illustrating the mouthwatering meal options chefs can make with pork products.

"We meant for "The Best of Pork" to highlight the standard cuts of pork that are traditionally used by the retail and food service industries," said Hartz. "But more than that, we wanted chefs and restaurateurs to take another look at pork and see new ways of including it in their menus."

On top of giving a pictorial reference of each cut, "The Best of Pork" goes into detail about how each cut has been historically used and what cooking technique each cut is best suited for. For example, the loin cut is described as, "a true crowd pleaser that's perfect for appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, and sandwiches." Chefs are presented with new ways to incorporate pork in their dishes.

"Hot New Cuts" introduces chefs and restaurateurs to the four new cuts that the pork industry is working to market: the pork breast, petite tender, cap steak and pocket roast. The piece takes a thorough look at the new cuts and outlines some of the technical attributes that are important to chefs, such as the dimension of the cut, the level of tenderness, juiciness, flavor and texture.

"When a consumer sees a cut of meat, they don't look for the same thing a chef does," said Brian Owens, Designer and Principal at The Richards Group. "A chef spends more time thinking about how the different aspects of a cut are going to work in their end product. They take into consideration cooking time and texture, as well as flavor and the overall look of the product. They create, they don't just cook, and we had to show them how these four new cuts could play into their creativity and menu preparation."

Because these four cuts are so new, they're usually not found in industry ordering databases and many chefs are not familiar with the best ways to cook each cut. "Hot New Cuts" offers them a brief overview of the best way to prepare each cut and menu ideas that highlight the cut's attributes.

"This piece had to meet several functions," said Hartz. "Not only did we want chefs to increase the number of standard pork cuts they were using, we also wanted them to act as a pull-through for the processing and meat packing industry. If chefs and restaurant managers are requesting the cuts from their suppliers, demand for them will increase."

The final piece in The Other White Album is a pull-out poster known as "The Hit Chart." This piece features the four "Hot New Cuts" and the 20 "Best of Pork" cuts in their pre-cooked stage.

"The inspiration for the "The Hit Chart" came from going through old records and noticing that sometimes they were packaged with posters of other hit records you could purchase from that particular label," said Owens. "We thought it'd be a fun and more functional piece for the chefs and restaurant managers to have. We envisioned copies of "The Hit Chart" posted in kitchens all across the country as a constant reminder of ways to use pork."

As the pork industry continues to change to meet consumer needs and grows new markets for pork, the Pork Checkoff and their communications team will continue to develop concepts and pieces that make pork more "wow." The Other White Album is a great example of that dedication.

"We've only scratched the surface in terms of re-branding pork and giving it a more contemporary image" said Hartz. "We've had a couple successful years and have demonstrated a return on investment to U.S. pork producers. But we're still a distant third place competitor, and need to be a much more everyday choice.

Introducing new cuts of meat into the marketplace requires relying on existing brand support and building demand for new products. When the pork industry decided to introduce their four new cuts, they needed to have sound science and the supplier community behind the cuts, especially if they wanted the supply chain, chefs and the food service industry to adopt them.

"The Pork Checkoff has been working with animal scientists, research and development and culinary experts for several years, experimenting with different ways to cut pork," said Stephen Gerike, National Food Service Marketing Manager with NPB. "These four new cuts come from the results of the pork industry's Porcine Muscle Profiling Study, which was conducted by the University of Wisconsin, Iowa State University and Michigan State University, and funded by the Pork Checkoff."

The Porcine Muscle Profiling Study provided an in-depth look at the sensory, chemical and physical attributes of individual muscles in pork legs and shoulders. They indicated that there were non-traditional cuts that were economically viable from underutilized sections of the hog, and new for the food service and retail market segments.

The study also outlined the technical attributes that are important to chefs, such as the dimension of the cut, the level of tenderness, juiciness, flavor, texture, color, uniformity, water holding capacity and pH. This information would be vital to the marketing efforts involved with the introduction of these new cuts and in the development of The Other White Album.

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