All good things must come to an end, and so it is with the “Pork. The Other White Meat” advertising campaign. After nearly a 25-year run, the infamous pork industry slogan won’t disappear completely, but it will take a back seat to the new “Pork. Be Inspired” message, which will focus on creative, confident home-cooks who already like and are comfortable preparing pork.

The National Pork Board rolled out the much anticipated new slogan and campaign at last month’s National Pork Industry Forum in Phoenix.

The well-known “Other White Meat” slogan “is an important part of what pork is to consumers,” says Ceci Snyder, NPB vice president of domestic marketing. “We want to build on that and to convey other messages.”

The origins of “Pork. The Other White Meat” rest with the 1980s’ and 1990s’ diet/health concerns and chicken’s dominance in that area at the time. So to maintain the headway that “The Other White Meat” achieved, it will become a “heritage” brand, which, Snyder explains, means it will be used to promote pork’s attributes to nutrition and health professionals, as well as in nutrition-based consumer communications, particularly on the Web. It will not be featured in advertising.

Bottom line, it was time for something new and fresh. “‘Pork. Be Inspired’ is a positive, motivating message,” says Diane Bettin, Minnesota pork producer and chair of NPB’s domestic marketing committee. “It celebrates the wide range of meals that pork offers, gives ideas to our new target and moves the needle on pork sales for both retail and foodservice.”

“Pork. Be Inspired” is more than a slogan; it’s a whole new advertising strategy for pork across the board, reaching consumers, retail, foodservice, processors, public relations efforts and social media. It officially started in March but will begin in earnest this month.

It also sets up pork as the brand. “It’s what people write on their grocery lists; it’s what they order in restaurants,” Snyder points out. “It stands on its own; it requires no comparison to other meats.” 

The new effort starts with a very specific and loyal target audience — the 28 percent of U.S. households who already eat 68 percent of all fresh pork consumed at home and 50 percent of fresh pork consumed away from home. That covers 82 million Americans who eat pork two to three times a month.

“These are decisions makers, and they are heavy meat eaters to start with,” says John Green, NPB’s strategic marketing director. 

While the new target represents pork’s biggest fans, “we believe they have the potential and desire to enjoy pork more often — and to inspire others to do the same,” Snyder adds.

Like all advertising and marketing efforts, the changes weren’t made on a whim. NPB spent more than a year testing ideas and conducting a multi-dimensional consumer segmentation study to get the strategy right and to determine how to get the most bang for the producers’ buck. After all, it is the National Pork Checkoff that funds the promotional package. The research objectives were to understand U.S. pork consumption; determine the right consumers to target; develop the right message for the audience; and create resources for use with channel partners (processors, retailers, foodservice and such).

Advertising and marketing always dig into the demographic details of an audience, such as age, income and family size, but this strategy is driven more by behavior and attitude. “These consumers are confident in preparing two or more cuts of pork; they have positive attitudes about pork, cooking and life; and they enjoy all fresh pork cuts,” Snyder says.

In recent years, pork had been courting women 25 to 49 years old with children at home. “This new strategy spans all ages and genders,” says Chris Novak, NPB chief executive officer. “What we know about these consumers is that they influence friends, family and neighbors.” The campaign also will reach out to more Hispanics and African Americans.

 “The target consumers told us, ‘cooking isn’t something I have to do; it’s something I like to do’…but they want some fresh, creative ideas,” Snyder says. These are confident, accomplished cooks, who already choose and enjoy pork. They also like to share food with friends and family, and they often influence others when it comes to food and cooking.

NPB’s board has committed to investing heavily in the new ad slogan and campaign. The estimated commitment for the complete package is $25 million for this year. As a rough estimate, that’s 40 percent of the National Pork Checkoff’s anticipated total for the 2011/2012 fiscal year.

“One of the things we heard repeatedly in the last few years (during tough economic times) is that we need to market better,” Bettin notes. “Producers really want to see pork with a fresh new face, and they know that we can’t promote that without committing some money.”

Given the pork industry’s profit pressures from the fall of 2007 into early 2010, pork advertising slowed to a crawl. As of April 11, pork ads will be back on TV, including spots during network morning shows and various cable channels, including the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. Look for colorful, lively, celebratory scenes and listen for a distinct, rhythmic background with a signature “mmm, mmm, mmm.” 

A new website — PorkBeInspired.com — was activated last month. It features “Videos to Feed your Creativity,” from which the viewer can select a variety of ideas and instructions; each runs between 1.5 to 2 minutes. There’s a featured recipe of the day, recipe and advertising archives, and much more. Included in the March “digital” rollout are paid Web searches, website advertising on sites such as msn.com, myrecipes.com and weightwatchers.com, as well as social media efforts.

Also this month, a major print advertising blitz begins, with ad placements in food and lifestyle publications such as Everyday with Rachel Ray, Better Homes and Gardens, People and Food Network magazines and many more through December.  The print ads will involve three, full-page ads that will flow on consecutive right-hand pages for a dominant, repetitive message.

While NPB’s board has committed the money for this new program, it’s also committed to tracking defined results. The clock started ticking as of 2009 and is now facing the challenge of rising food prices. The board has defined a five-year goal, running out to 2014, of seeing a 10 percent increase in real domestic pork expenditures, a 10 percent increase in fresh pork-eating experiences and a 10 percent increase in the perception of pork as tender, juicy and flavorful.

In the end, to meet those goals, the new campaign would have to motivate those 82 million Americans to eat one or two additional servings of pork each month.  Some of the advances that NPB will look for in the target group during that five-year timeline include:

• Consumers who enjoy all pork cuts: Baseline = 75 percent; by 2014 = 88 percent.
• Consumers who are positive about pork, cooking and life: Baseline = 68 percent; by 2014 = 77 percent.
• Consumers who are confident in preparing more than two pork cuts: Baseline = 42 percent; by 2014 = 48 percent.

“I think producers can get behind this; we produce pork and are proud of it,” Bettin says.

So, if all goes as planned, “Pork. Be Inspired” will inspire loyal consumers to buy and try even more pork and bring some new customers along with them.