A new look and attitude are paying off for “Pork. The Other White Meat.” The industry’s “Don’t Be Blah” campaign is paying off for retailers, which translates to improved returns for U.S. pork producers.

The Other White Meat campaign rolled out in 1987, with the goal of turning around declining pork demand. Now, the slogan is among the most recognized in U.S. advertising. 

However, that didn’t mean a makeover wasn’t needed. In 2005, the National Pork Board launched the “Other White Meat. Don’t Be Blah” campaign to increase pork sales by positioning pork as an exciting solution to everyday meals. The campaign features print, radio, television and online advertising.

A group of economists has helped NPB develop a tool to measure changes in consumer expenditures that can be attributed to promotion, advertising and public relations’ activities. The economists conducted a brand-tracking study which looked at actual pork sales in six target markets: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia and Sacramento. These areas account for 12.21 percent of all U.S. households. The total pork checkoff investment was more than $4 million. The study used bar-code data on pork packages in retail stores to get real-world data.

For the analysis, Oral Capps, an agricultural economist at TexasA&MUniversity, used weekly supermarket scanner data from Jan. 6, 2002, to Jan. 1, 2006, collected from Freshlook and Information Resources. He reviewed the data on national pork expenditures, as well as beef and chicken prices, along with consumer income, inflation and population.

The overall evaluation of the Don’t Be Blah program started with Texas A&M economists conducting a consumer brand-tracking study that found awareness of The Other White Meat advertising has increased significantly since the campaign’s kick off. Within the six target markets, the study shows that consumers increasingly describe pork as “engaging, energetic, young, fun and exciting.”

The brand-tracking study also found that consumers’ perceptions and behaviors have changed. Those aware of the Don’t be Blah brand campaign rate it and The Other White Meat program significantly higher than unaware consumers.

“The campaign’s aim is to reach consumers, to illustrate the opportunities pork offers – its ease of use, versatility and great taste,” says Karen Boillot, NPB’s retail marketing director. “The focus is to help consumers make pork a part of everyday life, not just an alternative to other proteins. This economic analysis proves we’re moving the dial.”

The new campaign has worked well. From March to November 2005, the Don’t be Blah program generated between $17.2 million to $20.1 million in additional retail pork sales. That means for every one checkoff dollar invested in the program during that period, it yielded $4.22 in retail sales.

The producer share of retail dollars was 31.1 percent, according to USDA. That means, for every $1 producers invested in this program, they received a $1.31 return.

The campaign is modified to meet an individual retailer’s needs. “This is one reason way it’s successful,” says Boillot. “Components such as magnetic signs and meat-case signage are customized to fit a retailer’s needs and connect them with consumers.”

The economists’ objective with the study was to identify immediate measures of a program designed to create long-term impact. The study did not evaluate foodservice benefits, which would account for additional pork revenues in the target markets.

Jeff Hartz, NPB’s marketing communications director, says the target markets “provided a way to evaluate marketing efforts. Success is measured by campaign awareness, brand image and impact or purchases made.”

“The bottom line,” says Hartz, “is that the targeted advertising and promotion programs conducted in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia and Sacramento increased total pork revenues.”

Pork producers took a chance on the Don’t Be Blah campaign, and so far the results show that consumers are realizing that eating pork is anything but blah.