It’s now been a week since the National Pork Board introduced its new pork advertising slogan-- “Pork. Be Inspired.” That means you’ve had some time to let it sink in—not enough time, but some time.

In visiting with producers, industry partners and some consumers over the past seven days, the reaction has been mixed. Well, it’s been more skeptical than mixed. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Be honest, how many of you thought “Pork. The Other White Meat” was the memorable slogan it eventually became the first time or two that you heard it?  I clearly recall the doubts and criticism surrounding “The Other White Meat”—some of which continue to this day.

So, why mess with a good thing? Because “The Other White Meat” slogan is no longer as good a thing today as it was when it rolled out in the late 1980s.  Chicken was, and in many respects still is, in the driver’s seat when it comes to U.S. meat consumption trends. But most significantly, back in the 1980s pork had a health and nutrition image problem. In consumers’ minds, chicken was lean and healthy, pork was not. Since the “Other White Meat” campaign pork has gotten a lot leaner, and consumers more clearly understand its fat, calorie and nutritional standing. The campaign helped advance that.

Truthfully, it was time for a change. There isn’t a company, person or product, that hasn’t changed in the past 23 years. Think about how you were raising hogs (or if you were raising hogs), and what it was like to track and analyze your records. Remember how immediate the fax machine seemed?

Consumers’ priorities and household makeup have changed even more dramatically. Consumers have an obscene number of options today, and the competition is fierce.

 Change is always hard. It’s harder still when you’re footing the bill, and in this case, the estimate is $23 million dollar for 2011. Yea, that’s a lot of money, but not in branding and advertising terms.

Remember, you haven’t seen the slogan or the campaign in action. Not many slogans can stand on their own without the visuals, audio or the personality that goes with it. It takes time to build a brand and the personality, and that’s what the National Pork Board is hoping to develop with “Pork. Be Inspired.”

The program is targeted to the 28 percent of U.S. households where the cooks are already comfortable and committed to pork. That translates to 83 million people who eat 68 percent of all fresh pork that’s consumed at home, and 50 percent of all fresh pork eaten away from home.

These are people who cook to impress and satisfy others. They share recipes and advice, which means they can get others to try things; and they will repeat the really good dishes.

There are very specific goals tied to this new campaign effort, and that’s a good thing. The goals are to increase, from 2009 to 2014, real domestic pork expenditures by 10 percent, increase pork eatings by 10 percent and increase the perception of pork as tender, juicy and flavorful. In the end, meeting the goals would mean getting these loyal customers to eat another serving or two of pork a month.

We all know today’s economics are tough, so this may be just the time to court pork’s base. I’m not saying abandon other consumers, hopefully some of them will be inspired to sample more pork as well.

Another overlooked fact is the new slogan can be used for all pork—processed meats included—the old slogan could not. It was a fresh-pork only pitch. We’ve seen how inspiring bacon can be—and what it can mean to your overall sales and pork’s profitability. Take sausage out of the mix and you take inspiration out of a lot of recipes.

So, whether “Pork. Be Inspired” doesn’t quite inspire you, give it some time. See what the campaign package looks like, and what others eventually say about it. It all takes time, and rest assured, it was time for a change.