Beef. It’s, Like, What’s for Dinner

National Cattlemen connect with the teenyboppers

One of the more bizarre pairings of advertiser and target market has to be that of the beef industry and teen and preteen girls. It’s hard to imagine Robert Mitchum or Sam Elliott (the two men who have gruffly voiced the “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner” tagline) dominating discussion at a slumber party. Nor would you expect girls to pay much heed to Jonathan Hoffman, ecd at Leo Burnett, when he declares that a goal of his shop’s new work for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is to get people to unleash the “wonderful, unapologetic carnivore within.”

Yet the NCBA is plenty interested in this cohort. It has been using Sasha Cohen, the 4-foot-11, 19-year-old figure skater, as a spokeswoman for the past several years, and now it has launched a girl-power-themed Web site, Cool-2B-Real.com, aimed at 8-12-year-olds (many of whom, the NCBA is well aware, are already vegetarians). Outfitted in pastel pinks, blues and yellows, the site looks a lot like Barbie.com, if you ignore the hamburger in the middle of the page. It offers games like “Burger Boggle” and “Grillin’ & Chillin’,” as well as polls, quizzes, chat rooms, message boards and, of course, recipes (almost all of which include beef).

A connection to the beef industry’s longtime positioning is made through emphasis on the word real —though instead of “Real food for real people,” the line is, “Keepin’ it real.” The overall message is one of empowerment through healthy eating and exercise (“Enjoy all foods, just don’t overdo it, and get your body moving”). Of course, PETA argues with the premise. “Sure, it’s fine if you want to be really fat and really constipated,” says a rep.