Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson--which this week started selling its chicken in redesigned packaging highlighting it as free of antibiotics and artificial ingredients--is the first major poultry company to nix antibiotics (except for medicinal purposes) on a large scale.
The company says economies of scale will allow it to offer drug-free chicken without having to substantially raise its prices.
Speaking at a press event, Tyson CEO Richard Bond says the issue of antibiotic overuse is not an arcane one to most Americans.
"Ninety-one percent of consumers agree it's important to have chicken without antibiotics on a large-scale basis," he says, conceding that drug-free chicken costs more.
"Our research shows that our price will be well below what consumers are willing to pay," he adds, and less than what niche brands are charging for similar products. "They are charging a $1.50 to $2.00 per pound premium. We will be significantly under that."
The new TV spot--the first of the "Thank You" campaign, shows a mom setting a dish of chicken on the dining table, to an approving family. As she sits down to join the meal, we see that her daughter has stood up on her chair, and is making an official pronouncement of gratitude, complete with John Philip Sousa-esque trumpet music. As the camera pans, we see that the trumpet is being played by her son, also standing on his seat, as is her husband.
Dave Hogberg, senior vice president, Fresh Meal Solutions for Tyson, said the campaign began a week ago with ads for Tyson's "Trimmed and Ready," and new packaging that touts Tyson chicken as 100% natural, raised without antibiotics and with no artificial ingredients.
New "Thank You" ads will roll out for Tyson Deli Rotisserie and Marinated Raw Breaded chicken in July.
The effort, via Arnold Worldwide, Boston, includes outdoor and radio ads. Houston-based Lopez Negrete is handling the Spanish-language ads, and Chicago-based E. Morris Communications has created ads targeting African-American consumers.
The company's last major push was 2004's "Powered by Tyson," which Hogberg said would live on in promotional activity. "That effort was very successful in driving awareness for the brand," he says, adding that Tyson has 96% brand awareness, and is the leading poultry company in the U.S.
"Now, with saturated awareness, the new effort strengthens an emotional connection to the brand," he says.