It’s Back To The Future For Beef Marketers

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af staff |pincher creek

It’s time to shift the focus back to the Alberta Beef brand, according to the marketing experts at the Alberta Beef Producers.

“Let’s face it, right across the country, Alberta beef is famous,” said Mark Francis, ABP promotion committee chair.

“It’s still famous here at home and it’s time to ramp that back up again.”

That means an end to the current “Raised Right” strategy, which was launched in 2008.

“Really when we went to the Raised Right campaign, it was to promote the image, which was maybe slightly tainted with the BSE issue,” said Francis.

“And we didn’t think that would be a long-run campaign anyways. So we just decided to evolve that campaign into going back towards branding Alberta beef.”

While the Raised Right campaign did win several national awards, it failed to capture the public’s imagination in the same way that two earlier campaigns did. Both used the slogan, “If it ain’t Alberta, it ain’t beef.” The first featured three cowboys and its release was timed to hit the streets during the 1988 Winter Olympics.

“The rationale at the time was with all of the media that would be visiting Alberta, it was an opportunity to promote the industry and the product,” said Joanne Lemke, former public affairs manager for the Alberta Cattle Commission.

“However, we didn’t have the budget to become an official sponsor. So the question was, how do we brand Alberta beef, and capitalize on this great opportunity? And thus, “If it ain’t Alberta, it ain’t beef” was developed with the three male cowboys.”

The timing couldn’t have been better. Billboards featuring the now-famous slogan and the three cowboys were erected a week before the Games began.

“We were so excited in the office that we went over to look at it,” said Lemke. “And lo and behold, Timemagazine’s special Olympic issue went out and a photograph of our billboard was in it.”

Savvy targeting of visiting journalists and a special restaurant campaign also helped, but the results were beyond expectations.

“We had lots of bizarre things that just happened with promotion materials – we had sighting of people on the C-Trains with the cowboy cut-out, and posters were being stolen if you can believe it,” said Lemke. “That campaign was originally designed to capitalize on the Olympics, but it took on a bit of a life of its own and it ended up running for about 13 years.”

However, the sun sets on every cowboy one day, and in 2001, the Alberta Cattle Commission decided a refresh was needed. But after consulting five different advertising agencies, it was decided to keep the slogan but swap the cowboys with cowgirls. Three beef producers, of varying ages, were chosen and presented as “rancHers.” They attended industry and government events, trade shows and effectively became the face of the beef business in Alberta.

Development of the new campaign is still in its planning infancy, but the goal is clear.

“I don’t think we’re going back to the same tagline, but it will be a campaign around Alberta beef,” said Francis.

“I believe Canadians want to buy Canadian beef and Albertans ask for Alberta Beef. And it’s time we refreshed Alberta Beef and got it back into the forefront of Albertans’ and Canadians’ minds.”

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Sothequestionwas, howdowebrandAlberta beef,andcapitalizeon thisgreatopportunity?”

Joanne Lemke

former ACC public relations manager

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