DENVER, Colo. - An extensive, coordinated 16-market retail campaign is building momentum for this fall's "Beef. It's What's For Dinner" consumer marketing program. The campaign, funded by the beef checkoff, combines the efforts of national and state beef producer organizations with those of beef manufacturers to create the largest retail marketing effort in the beef checkoff's history.

Beef continues to be positioned as a tasty and convenient meal option for moms through this program, which highlights the heat-and-serve entrée category. Working as a Beef Board contractor with state beef councils and branded beef manufacturers, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) is helping create awareness of, and demand for, convenient beef products.

The current retail campaign started in September to coincide with the national "Beef. It's What's for Dinner" advertising campaign, which began Oct. 2. It includes various trial marketing ideas that encourage immediate purchase of convenient, branded beef products, such as online computer couponing, in-store demonstrations, radio advertising and remotes and other unique marketing ideas that will be evaluated for effectiveness. For example, Washington state beef producers coordinated with the national effort and Harris Ranch Beef to target women ages 25-54 in their state with encouragement to try new Harris Ranch Beef products. Through the Washington State Beef Commission, producers funded several demand-building marketing efforts, including plastic newspaper delivery bags for the Seattle Times and Spokesman-Review. These bags, which included a $1-off coupon for Harris Ranch heat-and-serve products, reached more than 350,000 consumers at both sides of the state.

"We were excited about this coordinated effort to reach 'moms' in our state," according to Patti Brumbach, executive director of the Washington State Beef Commission. "By combining the resources of NCBA and the WSBC in the television and radio campaign, we'll be able to reach 83 percent of the target audience more than 12 times over a 3-week period in October. That doesn't even include the investment of Harris Ranch in this effort. It's a very comprehensive, efficient and effective program."

Brumbach says Harris Ranch must match WSBC investments in the Washington market to participate in the program. The company is running television and radio advertising, as well as placing newspaper ads with coupons and helping sponsor in-store demonstrations.

In addition to Seattle and Spokane, concentrated test marketing programs are being conducted in San Diego, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Des Moines, Louisville, Atlanta and Kansas/Missouri. Five "control" cities also are involved in the test. Results from the various marketing elements will be available as early as November.

"Our approach to the challenge of building retail acceptance of new heat-and-serve products was well thought-out by our committee and staff specialists," according to Perry Teeter, a beef producer from Scenic Valley, North Carolina, and chairman of the beef industry's Retail Committee. "And the level of participation in this campaign is unprecedented. Furthermore, the evaluation process will provide guidance to our program as we identify the most powerful tools in building demand for this product category."

NCBA retail campaign is funded by the national beef checkoff, administered by the Cattlemen's Beef Board. This 110-member board is appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to oversee the collection of the $1-per-head checkoff, to certify state beef councils, to implement the provisions of the Federal order establishing the checkoff and to evaluate the effectiveness of checkoff programs.