Pork’s New Slogan Says Nothing New

by Joe Winn on March 21, 2011

Pigs have been a veritable source of inspiration for centuries.

Bout drove my car off Interstate-35 the other day. Frightening stuff.

Only a handful of things can cause you to flirt with the ditches. Ice, snow, blown tires, talk radio, deer, raccoons, and walruses all come to mind.

Outrageous roadside spectacles, such as naked hitchhikers and radical signage, are also possibilities. And it was the latter that got the best of me on Sunday.

Beware of Radical Signs

Sometimes it’s what’s NOT there that makes a sign radical. If a road sign declared the speed limit to be “55 ph” you’d obviously be quite taken aback, thinking to yourself, “Well, is it 55 miles or kilometers per hour? Because the difference can be rather considerable.”

It was a sign with a similarly radical omission that nearly sent me hurdling down the roadside embankment near the Hickman exit.

Radical Signs at 50 kilometers per hour

I was headed north on I-35, doing about 50 kilometers per hour when it happened. As I floated past the Iowa Pork Producers headquarters, I looked for the sign that so proudly states the familiar slogan that for so long has served pork so well.

That slogan, of course, is The Other White Meat.

Ah, yes…I’ve always approved of that slogan. As a lover of food, it ignites in me a ravenous hunger for pork chops and pork loins and other tasty pork dishes. As a student of advertising, it reassures me that simple and straightforward is the formula for success.

So you can understand the severe shock that befell me when seeing that familiar sign with the familiar slogan had been replaced by a NEW sign and a NEW slogan.

That slogan, of course, is Pork: Be Inspired.

Stagnant Sales = New Slogan

Turns out The National Pork Board decided last summer that The Other White Meat just doesn’t bring home the bacon anymore. Pork sales are stagnant so a new slogan was implemented earlier this month to generate some oink.

In 2010, Americans consumed an average of $117 or 50 pounds of pork. And that just won’t do. Not when they’re eating 61 pounds of beef and 80 pounds of chicken annually!

So they slaughtered old faithful in hopes of inspiring us to consume more pork. Which is fine so long as the new campaign is better. And if not better – then at least just as good. Or at least kind of good. That is to say it’s simple and straightforward.

This Slogan Isn’t Simple and Straightforward

Pork: Be Inspired. Ok, it’s simple. I’ll give ‘em that.

What’s absent is creativity. Now, I’m not the kind of guy who needs ultra clever. No, if only a fraction of consumers understand your ads, you’ve failed miserably. Unless it’s an ad for MENSA.

But at least strive to produce something original. Furthermore, promote what makes your products or services unique. Lastly, make sure the promises or calls to action actually make sense.

Let’s examine:

  • Be Original – A campaign must say something that has never been said before. Or it must say the familiar in a new way. Be Inspired has been said in that exact same way millions of times.
  • Distinguish Your Products or Services – Buick: Be Inspired. Merrill Lynch: Be Inspired. Ted’s Toilets for Toddlers: Be Inspired. Terry’s Tombstones: Be Inspired.
  • Make Sense – What should consumers be inspired to do here? Buy more pork? Eat more pork? Try new recipes? Are we to be inspired by pork to do good in the community? Donate blood? Save a walrus from oncoming traffic?

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

Pork has so many marketable qualities – none of which has anything to do with inspiration but everything to do with being delicious. No matter how you prepare it, pork is enjoyable to cook and even more enjoyable to eat. It’s a feel good food.

Thus, why not have some fun.  Something like Lick Your Chops. I’m seeing online, TV and print spots of ordinary people – from kids to grandparents to celebrities – with smiling eyes as they lick delicious pork chops. That’ll generate some oink.

Or, what about emphasizing the versatility of pork as an ingredient. Something like Now available for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.

Or, staying with the variety of flavors theme and playing off the old slogan, use something like How Do You Color Pork? and showcase regular people cooking different pork recipes that are vibrant colors like orange, yellow, red…Because pork IS the other white meat, but only Plain Janes actually eat it that way.

Thoughts?

What do you think? Like the new slogan? Loathe the new slogan? Have suggestions of your own? Still thinking The Other White Meat is everything a slogan should be? Still trying to remember the last time you saw a walrus near the Hickman exit on I-35?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff Newsom March 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm

No one has commented on this yet? Maybe it really isn’t such a tragedy of a new slogan after all.

Nope – Still tragic.
I agree – I am not quite sure what I am supposed to be “inspired” about. The pig? It’s tasty meat? The farmers that raised the beast? Maybe they just intended to inspire thought. It goes on and on.

Really it started out OK – Pork, ….. and then they lost me.

There’s nothing wrong with “The Other White Meat”. And it lends itself to an wonderful array of creative and effective marketing campaigns. Why not spend the money on a new approach, or a new awareness campaign. Or maybe a comparison campaign.
I see a cow holding an “eat mor chikin” sign, and a chicken holding a “Pork, the other white meat” sign with an arrow pointing at a pig. And maybe throw a “we know fish” sign in there somewhere. Done and done! – Publicity for everyone!

The old slogan had what it needed. It was simple and it sent the audience in a defined direction. The new slogan might be simple in text, but in its ideals – too broad and complex. Maybe they will “be inspired” to go back to what works….the old slogan.

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Steve Jones March 23, 2011 at 4:23 am

I can’t believe they would drop a legendary positioning statement like “The Other White Meat”. That was perfect! You’re right… be inspired could be the slogan for anything from churches to chainsaws.

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Emily Beckmann April 20, 2011 at 11:50 am

Joe – I completely agree! I just had this conversation this past Sunday while driving from the West side to Johnston. I think the new slogan is bland and uninspiring. All I could do is ask – “What am I supposed to be inspired about?” There are many things that are inspiring, but pork is not one of them. It’s far from one of them.

I found this quote about the new campaign via a Huffington Post article: “The overall goal is to move sales of our product. We want to increase pork sales by 10 percent by 2014. To do that, we needed to make a stronger connection, a more emotional connection to our product.” – Ceci Snyder vice president of marketing on the National Pork Board (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/04/pork-be-inspired-slogan-other-white-meat_n_831331.html)

I’m not sure going with an emotional connection is really what was needed to boost sales….seems that the emotions that they are getting in response to the new slogan are the opposite of what they were going for.

Optimistic twist: The one thing I do like about the campaign is how they are incorporating new and different pork recipes into their website. It gives consumers a way to get past the normal chicken and beef recipes.

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Joe Winn April 20, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Thanks for reading and resuscitating the pork post, Emily! I remember reading that same – or a similar – quote about wanting to increase pork sales by 10 percent by 2014. Well, having someone telling me to be inspired by meat is no way of driving this consumer to the butcher shop.

The way to do it – as you pointed out in your optimistic twist and as I alluded to in the post – is by showcasing the limitless ways you can prepare pork. There is a rising trend of amateur chefs and weekend kitchen warriors – myself included – who love trying new recipes. Thus, why not capitalize on that trend, engaging ordinary people and getting them to try new pork recipes. A slogan like “Tried that New Pork Recipe Yet?” will heighten my interest in pork and inspire me to buy/cook/eat it. Telling me to be inspired is a turnoff that inspires me to buy chicken or a fatty steak.

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