If you’re a cattle rancher of a certain age, you remember them; great ads with Robert Mitchum’s deep voice booming “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” while Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo Hoedown” played in the background. Every time it played, meat eating Americans suddenly got the urge to eat a steak or grill a burger. It was all over radio and TV in 1992 and it set a new standard for checkoff dollar supported marketing. If there was such a thing as the Billboard Top 10 advertising hits of that era, “Beef” would have been #1 with a bullet.
But that was then and this is now. The checkoff is still at a dollar a head and the herd is as small as it has been since shortly after WWII. The big budget that backed that early marketing effort is long gone and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board has to do a lot more with a lot less. When CBB announced a new beef ad campaign, I thought the financial constrictions might make it a pale comparison of the original. I posed a few questions about it to Cevin Jones and he suggested I might be surprised.
Cevin is one of the Checkoff volunteers who helped come up with the new campaign. He’s a member of the Operating Committee, vice chairman of the Federation of State Beef Councils, operates Intermountain Beef, a family owned custom feedlot, and has been involved with the beef industry his entire life. He grew up on his family feedlot and farming operation. He served as a Federation Region V vice president, as well as on boards of the NCBA and U.S. Meat Export Federation.
With a background like that, the old saying about penurious people comes to mind: “He throws around his nickles like manhole covers.” I figured he would take that attitude toward the funds needed to make this new campaign a success. With a lot fewer dollars to spend, the old bank account better be as frugally spent as possible.
When he described how the money would be spent, I thought the tightest Scotsman would be proud. Forgive the often ‘commercial’ sound to his answers, he’s justifiably proud of what the CBB folks have managed to accomplish with little more than a shoe string budget.
Q. The new ad that I saw placed that iconic phrase, "Beef. It's what's for Dinner" as a tag line at the bottom and uses "What's your dinner made of" as a headline. Although it's a nice play on one of the all time great ad campaigns in modern marketing history, a few people might ask if "What's for Dinner" has been demoted. What's the story behind this new creative approach?