Pork campaign will be revised, but not eliminated

By TIM HEARDEN

Capital Press

The National Pork Board is not tossing out its slogan pitching pork as "The Other White Meat."

Board officials hinted last spring that the more than 20-year-old campaign may be history because it encourages people to overcook the meat.

But surveys have shown "the Other White Meat" to be among the five most recognizable advertising slogans along with the likes of "Please don't squeeze the Charmin" and "You're in good hands with Allstate," said Cindy Cunningham, the pork board's assistant vice president of communications.

"The Other White Meat campaign was so successful," Cunningham said. "It did exactly what it was designed to do - reposition pork in the eyes of consumers in the '80s when chicken was the gold standard.

"We're not going completely away from it," she said.

In the spring, the pork board hired Schafer Condon Carter, an independent advertising agency, to test potential new brand positions for pork. The new campaign is slated to roll out in March 2011, Cunningham said.

Consumer research had shown that people are looking for versatility and convenience in the foods they buy and that they don't see pork as either, pork board CEO Chris Novak said last March.

Pork still battles the "grandma factor," Novak said, as consumers remember their grandparents said they had to cook pork until it's well-done to avoid becoming ill. When people cook pork until it's white, "they've overcooked it at that point," Novak said.

With today's improved health and safety standards in pork production, it's no longer necessary to overcook the meat, he said.

Cunningham said the board believes "pork should be pink and it doesn't have to be cooked the way your grandmother cooked it," she said. But "the Other White Meat" won't totally go away as a slogan, she said.

"We're going to refresh and have a new look on what we're doing," she said. Because of the success of the campaign, the organization is not going to get rid of it completely.

"We're going to enhance it and revise it," Cunningham said.

More than 50 pork producers gathered in Des Moines, Iowa, last week to help the board set priorities in its 2011 budget, which will be about $46 million.

Among the board's goals next year is to protect the rights and ability of U.S. farmers to produce pork "in a socially responsible and cost-competitive manner" and to help producers to remain competitive globally, according to a news release.

Online

National Pork Board: www.pork.org

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