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Ranching family promotes beef, WSU football

Matthew Weaver

Capital Press

Moses Lake ranchers Greg and Jen Rathbun and their family serve as representatives for the Washington beef industry and Washington State University Cougars during WSU's football game in Seattle. Promotions leading up to the game reach approximately 20 million consumers, said Washington Beef Commission executive director Patti Brumbach. Greg Rathbun says it's important to tell the story of a family working in production agriculture.

MOSES LAKE, Wash. — A Moses Lake ranch family is featured in advertisements promoting the beef industry in the run-up to the Sept. 28 Washington State University football game that will be played in Seattle.

It was a natural fit. Greg and Jen Rathbun both attended WSU and grew up rooting for the Cougars.

“I remember listening to the Cougars on the radio when I was a really little kid, all my years on the tractor,” Greg Rathbun said. “When the school you went to and have always rooted for calls and says, ‘Hey, do you want to help us promote a football game?’ your first inclination is ‘Yeah.’ That’s not hard.”

The Rathbuns are in the Washington Beef Commission’s “Beef — It’s What’s For Tailgating” promotion leading up to WSU’s game against Stanford University.

The promotion includes a four-week digital and radio advertising campaign. Consumers are encouraged to go to Quality Food Centers (QFC) stores and buy beef for the “season of tailgating.”

The Rathbuns serve as a “Cougar spokesfamily,” said Patti Brumbach, executive director of the Washington Beef Commission. In Seattle, they record tags to radio advertising and announcements that play in 70 QFC stores in Western Washington.

“It’s a perfect marriage,” Brumbach said of the Rathbuns. “They bring a really articulate, beef-producing ranching family that are Coug fans. They’re a great face for our industry.”

The Rathbuns volunteer their time for the promotion, Brumbach said.

The $180,000 promotion makes about 20 million consumer impressions during the four-week period.

Last year, total beef sales increased 7.5 percent and sales of promotion partner Certified Angus Beef increased 23 percent at QFC stores during the promotion, compared with the same period the previous year, Brumbach said.

Funding for the promotion, including advertising on 13 radio stations, internet music site Pandora and digital advertising, comes from checkoff dollars.

The Rathbuns had previously helped promote Certified Angus Beef.

“To tell a family story in beef production is an easy thing for us to do,” Greg said. “I think it’s very important the consuming public get to hear the family story.”

Greg attended WSU in the early 1990s and Jen in the mid-1990s. The Rathbuns married in 1996 and moved their certified Angus ranch to Moses Lake from the Tri-Cities area in 2000.

The ranch is 12,000 acres and has a base herd of about 500 head.

They have three children: Abby, 13; Tell, 9; and Taggart, 5, who also participate in the promotions.

The promotion falls during the ranch’s busiest time, preparing for its sale, and takes about 2 1/2 days. They participated in a photo shoot and drove to Seattle to record the radio and grocery store spots. They also will drive to Seattle for the game.

“It’s not really something you chalk up as a chore,” Greg said with a grin.

Greg said the promotions also offer the ranch name recognition.

Marty Northcroft, assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions at WSU, said the promotion is an opportunity to connect with a broader audience.

“Ranchers really embody the qualities we want from our student-athletes,” he said. “Hard workers, people that are willing to get their hands dirty and work hard. It’s a connection to us that makes sense.”

On game day at CenturyLink Field, 130 farmers and ranchers will distribute meatball kebabs as part of the promotions. There is also a “Punt, Pass, Kick” contest during half-time. Cattle feeder and former WSU football player Will Derting and the Washington Beef Commission chairman also reward the best tailgating set-up with beef during the game.

“We don’t always win the game, but it sure is a great community event,” Brumbach said.


Rathbun Angus: www.rathbunangus.com

Washington Beef Commission: www.wabeef.org


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