Rolling billboards travel 2 million miles promoting U.S. beef

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TV ads only work if you are tuned to the right channel. Billboards don’t move. Even Internet advertising is only effective if you visit a particular website. USMEF-Korea is taking a different approach: cooperating with local meat distributors in a cost-effective measure that repeatedly brings the message of quality U.S. beef and pork directly to the more than 10 million people who live in Seoul: ads on delivery trucks.

A delivery truck with world class beef ad unloads at a Seoul restaurant

Inspired by Korea’s application of mandatory country of origin labeling for meat products, USMEF initiated the truck ad program in the summer of 2011 to give more visibility to U.S. products to both end-users as well as consumers. Since that time, USMEF has negotiated for 33 Korean delivery trucks to be wrapped with mouth-watering, full-color images of American pork and another 29 trucks with the ads for U.S. beef.

At an average of about 33,000 miles traveled per truck per year, these moving billboards cover about 2 million miles per year through business districts and neighborhoods as U.S. red meat is delivered to restaurants, butcher shops and other outlets. And while gridlocked traffic is a curse for Seoul residents, where growing road congestion has driven average driving speeds from 19.1 miles per hour in 1990 to just under 10 in 2009, it is a boon to USMEF when these rolling advertisements populate the streets.

The concept of advertisements on trucks and mass transit vehicles isn’t new, but what makes these state-of-the-art truck-wrapping ads even more appealing is the cost: USMEF paid for the wraps – about $700 per truck, with financial support from the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) as well as the Pork Checkoff and the Beef Checkoff Program. In return the companies agree to pay all costs to maintain their beautified vehicle that advertises one of the key products they distribute: American “World Class Pork” and “World Class Beef.

“The response from the company owners to this sales channel partner initiative has been very positive,” said J.R. Lee, marketing manager for USMEF-Korea. “They see these truck wrappings as a benefit – an endorsement from one of their best suppliers that helps them advertise one of their products. And for us, it is a very efficient and inexpensive way to get our message in front of thousands of consumers each day.”

One truck, operated by importer/purveyor Haro FS, has carried the “World Class Beef” message more than 33,000 miles over the past year as it delivers U.S. beef to Western-style restaurants throughout the region. Fabricator/purveyor SJ Meat has driven its truck with the “World Class Pork” ad more than 31,000 miles in just 10 months as it visits pork barbecue and soup restaurants to deliver Boston butt for pork bulgogi and stir-fried spicy pork as well as kimchi soup.

“There’s probably not a person in Seoul who hasn’t seen at least one of these trucks as they roam through the city,” said Lee. “These are excellent reminders – both to consumers on the street as well as to the restaurants these trucks serve – that world class U.S. beef and pork are coming to a business near them.”

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