Consumers appear to be changing their ideas about beef and nutrition â€“ for the better. Four new nutrition ads sponsored through the national Beef Checkoff Program aim to continue that trend.
The ads will be placed in major publications nationwide starting in January. Among the magazines to feature the ads are Parents, Good Housekeeping, Bon Appetit, Weight Watchers, Shape and Men's Health.
"Nutrition advertising we've done in the past has been very successful," says Jennifer Houston, chair of the checkoff's Joint Advertising Committee, noting that tracking studies from previous ads show that 73% of those who have seen the ads feel better about eating beef. "The new ads update the information and refresh the message of the previous ones, but build on their success and expand understanding among consumers that lean beef is nearly as low in saturated fat as skinless chicken and is a nutrition powerhouse." Houston points out that the new ads also have tested well with consumers.
Targeting health conscious consumers in the 35-64 age group, the ads will make 69 appearances. The $4.2 million campaign is scheduled to run through August 2006, and will reach 72% of the target audience an average of 6.5 times.
Among messages in the ads, which will begin appearing in major national publications in January, is the fact that there are now 29 cuts of beef that qualify as lean based on U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrient data. Previously, 19 cuts were considered lean by the USDA.
Houston says the ads are also clever and capture the attention of readers. One, with a headline "There's No Plan to Rename the Tenderloin the 'Tenderlean.' Although Legally It Would Be Possible," notes that lean beef has about one more gram of saturated fat, on average, than a skinless chicken breast.
"The ads seek to dispel the notion that skinless chicken has nutritional superiority over lean beef," says Houston, a beef producer from Sweetwater, Tenn. According to the headline of another of the ads, "Even Chicken Would Tell Us How Lean Beef Is, If It Weren't For the Language Barrier."
According to Houston, checkoff-funded consumer research indicates that nutrition â€“ especially the issue of leanness â€“ is still the No. 1 barrier to keeping consumers sold on beef. She points out that ground beef has been seen as a nutritional negative by many consumers, but one of the ads, headlined "Calling Beef 'Fat' is Not Only Mean, It's Untrue," can help turn that image around. It features a hamburger and focuses on 95% lean ground beef, which is one of USDA's 29 lean cuts.
Other nutritional benefits of including beef in the diet are noted in another of the ads. "Who Would Have Thought Iron Could Be So Tender?", the ad headline asks, noting that lean beef has three times more iron, six times more zinc and eight times more vitamin B-12 than a skinless chicken breast.
"The nutrition advertising campaign allows beef's personality to shine through," according to Al Svajgr, a beef producer from Cozad, Neb., and chairman of the Cattlemen's Beef Board.
The checkoff-funded nutrition advertising and information programs include the "Healthy Beef Cookbook," a collaborative effort with the American Dietetics Association published this fall. The cookbook showcases healthy beef through 130 different recipes and is sold in bookstores nationwide.