Pork Billboard Ad

Probably not the new slogan.

by Jeffery Racheff

Get ready for a whole new shade of lipstick on your honey baked ham.

The National Pork Board (yes, it really exists) announced this week that it will be dropping the iconic slogan “Pork. The Other White Meat” as part of a new effort to revamp the meat’s image.

Known officially as “The Other White Meat” for over 20 years now, sales of pork benefited at first from being positioned as a healthful dinner option alongside chicken. But now the nation’s tasty army of pigs need a serious kick in the rump. Per capita consumption of pork products has stayed virtually flat over the last two decades, while the amount of chicken eaten per person per year has increased by nearly 30 pounds in the same time frame.

For Ceci Snyder, the Pork Board’s vice president of marketing, that just won’t work. “We don’t think flat is acceptable,” Snyder said.

So, a switch in slogans seems like a nice place to start. But many consider the move to be pretty risky, and some even think it could be brand suicide — why abandon such a well-known catch phrase just to take a risk that probably won’t pay off? Yet others think it could offer a huge opportunity for the pork brand to catch up with chicken and beef.

Then where does pork go from here? The original slogan attempted to align it with chicken, a leaner, more healthful meat than beef. Which it is. But the allure of the oink has never been with its health benefits (ironically, not even the USDA calls it white meat). If anything, pork and its myriad of by-products are eaten almost in spite of how UN-healthful they can be. Just look at the current bacon fetish. Right now there are pork fanatics out there somewhere fashioning themselves everything from bras and band-aids to bacon-flavored envelopes, and everyone loves it precisely because of how bad it is for you.

Unfortunately, the Pork Board has been known to take itself a bit too seriously. The organization recently cried trademark infringement and sent a cease-and-desist letter to ThinkGeek.com, which used the phrase “the new white meat” to pitch a canned treat — unicorn meat.

So if pork-lovers have come to terms with its higher fat content, why not its producers? The National Pork Board has an opportunity here to seize upon this unintended bacon meme with a slogan like “Pork. Brought to you by the makers of bacon,” or “Pork. The mother of all bacon.” That’s why I say embrace the Bacon Explosions. Jump on the bacon train, and get on the ham wagon before the “it’s-cool-to-be-unhealthy-as-long-as-it’s-absurdly-unhealthy” trend skids to an artery-clogged halt.