The iconic Checkoff-funded brand, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. has evolved for a new generation of consumers.
When the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand launched in 1992, it was seen as a catalyst for pushing beef to the forefront of consumer advertising and into the center of the dinner plate. With funding from the Beef Checkoff, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) established the original Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. campaign through television and radio advertisements. These memorable ads featured celebrity voiceovers, along with Aaron Copland’s famous “Hoe-Down” music from the ballet Rodeo. Television audiences – including cattle producers and other consumers – could see the brand’s advertisements on mainstream programming with large audiences.
Now in 2020, producers may wonder, “Why don’t I see those beef ads on television anymore?” Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. is still successfully promoting beef’s greatest strengths on multiple digital platforms, including TV. However, producers may not see these advertisements because they are not in the defined target audience. Producers already know about and love beef, but consumer groups need to be reached purposefully in order to communicate beef’s strong attributes. Checkoff dollars are being used to efficiently target an urban consumer audience through digital platforms.
A Digital Strategy
In 2014, with an increased focus on targeting the older millennial parent ages 25 to 34, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. went 100 percent digital to effectively and efficiently reach very specific consumer audiences. Consider how differently this audience consumes media now versus in 1992. Many families no longer have broadcast or cable television, instead choosing to watch video entertainment from online streaming services like Hulu and YouTube. They spend an average of 50 hours per week using social media, primarily on their smartphones 1.
Cutting the cord on traditional broadcast television advertising made it possible for the brand to more closely and cost effectively target and measure its beef promotion efforts. Television ads are typically more expensive to run during mainstream programming. That makes it difficult to accurately measure who actually watched the ad, because during commercial breaks, many viewers fast-forward or leave the room. With digital targeting, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. knows who viewed the ad, on which platform and for how long.
This approach is similar to the way the brand currently delivers ads online and via social media and music streaming services. In 2017, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. introduced “Nicely done, beef.”, a campaign positioning beef as the top protein. Utilizing technology, the brand delivers messages like the “Nicely Done, beef.” advertisements on streaming services, Facebook, Instagram, Pandora radio and premium websites, such as FoodNetWork.com, to specific consumers who meet certain targeted demographics and live in urban and suburban areas.
While producers paying into the Checkoff are often beef-eaters by nature, they may not see these ads because they’re not in the target audience. Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. is now reaching more consumers with fewer dollars, with the added ability to more accurately measure its influence.
Along with an overarching, integrated digital strategy, NCBA is using innovative and engaging ways to communicate beef’s nutrition, ease of preparation, convenience and taste to consumers.
One way this is accomplished is by working with influencers – people to whom consumers look for advice and guidance. In the beef industry, influencers include health professionals, fitness professionals, credentialed nutrition experts and communicators, medical doctors, non-governmental organizations, academics and third-party scientists, culinary leaders, bloggers and other experts. These individuals spread positive messages about beef to their audiences and partake in live or virtual experiences that expose them to beef’s many benefits firsthand.
By leveraging the strong relationships between influencers and their audiences, the Beef Checkoff can positively affect attitudes and perceptions about how beef is raised, its health value and its role in a nutritious diet.
Utilizing New Tools for Food Delivery
Today, more consumers are purchasing groceries online than ever before, a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Checkoff. A series of Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. ads were placed online on Instacart, the largest third-party grocery delivery service in North America, to measure what messages and content would best drive online beef sales through the Instacart platform. For example, some content focused on beef’s delicious taste while others focused on beef’s nutritional value. All Instacart tests have shown a significant increase in beef sales. After the test period, sales increased between 26 to 36 percent after consumers viewed a Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. ad at point-of-online purchase 2.
Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. also partnered with Postmates, a prominent third-party restaurant delivery platform, to determine which common beef-related keywords – beef, burger, steak and BBQ – would drive the strongest beef meal purchases. Almost 10 percent of customers purchased burgers during the week that keyword was promoted. Sponsoring the “burger” keyword with a Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. logo led to a two percent increase in purchases, and “burgers” also drove the highest number of new customers 3.
These efforts, along with multiple other campaigns, contributed to the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand reaching consumers a staggering one billion times in 2019 4. When consumers are aware of the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand, they’re more likely to eat beef more often and feel good about it.
A Proven Approach
Through an effective, research-driven digital approach, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. is helping increase per capita beef consumption. Consumers are eating beef more frequently than ever before, with 96 percent of consumers eating beef and more than 70 percent of consumers saying they are consuming beef at least weekly or more 5.
The Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand is only one promotional effort funded by the Beef Checkoff. Multiple other initiatives are being executed by Checkoff contractors to push beef as consumer’s protein of choice. By implementing cohesive campaigns that include digital advertising, social media and influencer relations, the Beef Checkoff is reaching a targeted group of consumers and reminding them that beef is a wholesome and nutritious product. As consumer trends continue to evolve, the Beef Checkoff will continue to find new ways to actively promote beef as the protein of choice.
- 2019 U.S. Time Spent With Mobile Emarketer Study
- Data from Instacart digital pilots, managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
- Data from Postmates digital pilots, managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
- 2019 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association performance efficiency metric score.
- 2020 Consumer Beef Tracker Research
The Beef Checkoff program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States may retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.