Pork Decision Looms As Shops Await Word

The U.S. Supreme Court could determine the fate of the National Pork Board’s $10 million ad account as soon as today, even as 15 Midwestern shops await word on the next step in a review.

Last October, a federal court ruled the mandatory checkoff for pork producers that finances the board is unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court picks up the board’s appeal, a process that could take up to a year, RFPs will be issued to a small group of agencies and the review will proceed, said Jeff Hartz, client director of marketing communications. If the Supreme Court allows the ruling to stand, the board will have to disband within 30 days.

The RFI, returned by the shops last week, inquired about credentials and staffing, and included more pointed questions, such as queries on “what specifically the agency sells.” It also asked shops to cite their failures and the lessons learned, sources said.

Among those returning the document were the 18-year incumbent, Interpublic Group’s Campbell Mithun in Chicago; IPG’s Carmichael Lynch, Omnicom Group’s Martin/Williams, MDC Partners’ Colle+McVoy and independent Periscope, all Minneapolis; independents Bernstein-Rein and Barkley Evergreen & Partners, both Kansas City, Mo.; and independent Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago, sources said.

If the board is forced to disband, another advocacy group would likely be formed that could need advertising, Hartz said. Other groups facing a similar challenge: the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Dairy Promotion Board.