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Beef Industry Shifting Its Strategy

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Leo Burnett's '99 Campaign Set to Tackle the Convenience Issue
CHICAGO--The National Cattlemen's Beef Association will revive the "Beef. It's what's for dinner" tagline in 1999 as it increases ad spending and shifts its marketing strategy to target retailers as well as consumers.
In late 1997, the NCBA dropped "It's what for dinner" in favor of "It's what you want" as part of its efforts to stimulate demand for beef, which its research showed consumers preferred over chicken. Since 1990, annual per capita consumption (by boneless weight) of chicken has increased nearly 18 percent to 50.2 pounds. Beef consumption has dipped 1.3 percent to 63.3 pounds over the same period, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The NCBA has found, however, that while consumers have a higher quality perception of beef, they view chicken as more easily prepared, said John Huston, NCBA's executive vice president for consumer marketing.
The upcoming campaign addresses the convenience issue. Ad spending will total about $25 million, of which about $10 million is earmarked for media advertising created by Leo Burnett, Chicago. The rest will go primarily toward in-store promotional programs. The total budget is nearly double the amount spent this year, when marketing was pared to help fund beef industry development of prepackaged microwaveable entrƒes.
Print ads focusing on beef meals that can be prepared in as little as 10 minutes will begin appearing Jan. 4 in The Wall Street Journal and other business publications. The target audience for this first group of ads is food producers and retailers. Key in that group are supermarkets, which the NCBA hopes will allot more space to products such as the microwaveable pot roast several packers have introduced, precooked barbecue beef and other new convenience foods, including the "Rotiss-A-Roast" beef being tested in a few markets as a competitor to the rotisserie-cooked chickens sold at deli counters.
Two national TV flights on broadcast and cable networks, with $7 million in total spending, are planned for Jan. 18-Feb. 7 and April 5-25. Actor Sam Elliott replaces the late Robert Mitchum on voiceovers in the 30-second spots, which direct consumers to supermarket meat cases for the convenience products.
Consumer-directed print ads in women's entertainment and food magazines will run in January, February and April.