The camera fades in on an empty, yet elegant dinner plate. Several medallions of succulent white meat slide off a silver serving fork and onto the bottom edge of the dish. The rest of the plate is filled clockwise with asparagus covered in a dollop of hollandaise, stuffing, and mashed sweet potatoes with a dash of pepper. A white upper-middle-aged announcer assures us that out of all the items on this plate, “the pork has the fewest calories.” He is implying here that pork has been given a bad rap as being fatty and that chicken is for losers. “Pork,” he intones, is “the other white meat.” The one you should be eating. Now.
That commercial debuted in 1987 and very effectively changed the minds of millions of “healthy” eaters to give this pork thing a go. Twenty-four years later, The National Pork Board has replaced the decades-old ad campaign with a new message: "Pork: Be Inspired."
The “other white meat” campaign was successful and stemmed a decline in pork consumption. But times have changed. The NPB feels it's time to take pork in a new direction.
Board officials said the new effort is the result of over a year’s worth of research. It’s time to move on from the old message and instead try to increase sales by focusing on the estimated 82 million Americans who already eat pork.
Apparently, eating pork makes you smarter, because this is a brilliant strategy. Sell it to the people who are already buying it. They are no longer trying to bring people over to The Pork Side. Their new campaign is aimed towards people who already eat the product, particularly medium-to-heavy consumers, which may-or-may-not refer to their heft and girth. The new direction is the direction it was going in anyway – insert GOP economic recovery plan reference here. I’ve always had a problem with advertising for food. Food food. Agriculture. Do we really need to be convinced about corn or milk or beef? You either eat it or you don’t. It’s not like they are reinventing pork. They’re not dipping pigs in chocolate or putting them on sticks. They just want you, you who already eat pork, to continue eating pork and, if possible, eat more pork.
"We want to move that needle, go after that core group of consumers," says Ceci Snyder, the Des Moines, Iowa-based board's vice-president of marketing. "These people love pork, know how to prepare it and are eager to share recipes."
Their market research determined that their core is regular folk who are adamantly not foodies. They are the tea party of the kitchen as long as it’s Lipton tea. Almost all their recipes involve the directions, stab meat, hold against fire. And the slogan the board came up with is “Be inspired.”
Here are a few of the slogans they rejected…
“Pork. Eat more of it.”
“Pork. It’s not just a verb.”
“Pork. It makes your left arm feel all tingly.”
“Pork. We really don’t care what you do with it. Make a sailor hat out of luncheon meat. We don’t care. As long as you buy it and you’re happy inside.”
Ceci also says "We want to increase pork sales by 10 percent by 2014. To do that, we need buyers to make a stronger connection, a more emotional connection to our product."
“Pork. It makes you feel special and a little weepy.”
What kind of emotional connection can someone generate for pork? “I love you, Bratwurst. I love you so much that I must have you inside me. And, by that, I mean eat you. And then pooping you out, later.”
People are already co-dependently freaky about bacon. If they want to sell more pork, just make the whole pig bacon. Bacon you can hug. Bacon you can carry on your back.
Pork sales totaled about $117 per person in 2010. Pork consumption averages about 50 pounds per person per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
And the National Pork Board doesn’t think that’s enough. 50 pounds is only about one-fourth of the meat yielded from a slaughtered adult pig. The NPB won’t be happy until we all eat an entire pig each, per year. Me, personally, I like to get it out of the way. I eat my pig in January and then spend the rest of the year digesting.
Pork remains behind beef and chicken in consumption, according to the USDA. It is the bronze winner of the eating animals Olympics.
Still, more than 31 billion pounds of pork was produced in the U.S. in 2010, according to the Pork Board. 31 billion pounds of pork and they want to sell you more. Just to give you an idea of how much pork that is, an Olympic-sized swimming pool holds 5.5 million pounds of water. Now, imagine 5,636 Olympic-sized swimming pools filled with pigs feet and hog jowls.
The old slogan will remain on the Pork Board's website and on apparel sold by the board, for you nostalgia buffs. Internet searches for "Pork: The Other White Meat" will direct people to the new campaign, as well as a few porn sites.
The board will spend more than $11 million to roll out the ads this month. It will include national print and broadcast advertising, public relations, foodservice marketing and social media. You will now be able to “like,” “friend” or “poke” pork. Online advertising has already begun, and national television ads begin in April. Print ads will also begin running in food and lifestyle publications. Lifestyle publications? You know, for those busy black, gay executive cat owners who want their pork on the go.
At the website porkbeinspired.com, there’s a section labeled “I Heart Pork” – oh, the irony. At “I Heart Pork” fans can post pork-related stories – brushes with porkness – and swap recipes. But if you are encouraging people to “be inspired” then I think it needs to go beyond recipes and move in to arts and crafts. A meat collage, perhaps. Or get some suckling pigs and hollow them out into mittens. Bedazzled sow ears. A piñata made of chorizo.
I think pork inspiration should also include poetry. Or Porkhus.
Piggy sleeps in mud
Dreaming of feathers for flight
Wakes up a hot dog
Pork is a show off
Spiral-cut and honey-glazed
Pork is a big ham
How about a limerick? Or, what I like to call, a SlimJimmerick.
There once was a pig from New York
Who feared being turned into pork
He danced the can-can
Too close to a fan
Now he can be eaten with a fork