food

'Beef. It's What's For Dinner' Gets A Digital Reboot

For its 25th anniversary, “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner” is being rebooted with new, Millennial-friendly positioning and creative, as well as an all-digital media strategy.

The campaign retains “What’s For Dinner” as the platform and tagline, and some original elements, including occasional use of Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo” music.

But along with the traditional messaging about beef’s taste and versatility, the stress is now on Millennial hot buttons. Those include protein — an obvious strength for beef (hence the popularity of beef jerky) — but also sourcing … including sustainability. 

“Our research shows that the ‘Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner’brand is still extremely popular among consumers, including Millennials,” says Alisa Harrison, senior vice president, global marketing and research, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, which funds the campaign. But as with all foods today, “consumers want the whole story about the beef they buy,” she says.

The hub of the campaign, launched this week, is a redesigned website. The site’s resources include beef recipes and information on nutrition, preparation/cooking, and cuts (a common point of confusion). 

The site also includes a section on “raising beef,” and showcases a series of “Rethinking the Ranch”-themed videos — footage from which is also being used in the brand’s owned social media and in digital and social advertising, including on Instagram and Facebook. 

This past summer, the marketing team — VML, NCBA’s digital agency, led the campaign’s new creative, including an updated logo — travelled across the country to record the stories of cattle ranchers and farmers, providing a human, narrative context for the brand messaging.

In addition to a 1:30 anthem video and one a similar video dubbed “The People Behind Beef” (also embedded below), there are videos focusing on individual ranch/farm families. 

The industry obviously can’t change the well-documented reality that beef has food’s highest (next to lamb) carbon footprint, or stop dissenters from posting social media messages about environmental impacts or treatment of animals in response to the campaign’s videos and other elements. 

However, the messaging in the videos and “raising beef” site area is focused on explaining the process behind bringing beef to consumers, and on describing how modern-day ranchers use the latest agricultural knowledge, methods and technology to maximize sustainability and care for their cattle.

The anthem’s messaging, for instance, states in part: “And on that ranch he helps preserve our native grasslands and wildlife with integrity, perseverance…and an app.” The videos and advertising aim to drive consumers to the campaign site to learn more about the industry’s practices.

“Today’s farmers and ranchers blend time-honored traditions with cutting-edge innovations to raise beef, from drones and GPS tracking on the range to apps and other electronic tools that ensure precise and nutrient-filled rations in the feedbunk,” says Harrison.  

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