Thursday, September 30, 2010

Comment on this draft of a paper for a conference

When Mere “Selling Word” Strategies Jeopardize Your Brand: “The Other White Meat” as “The Other Brand Strategy”.

Abstract: Marketing communications becomes more than a mere consumer strategy for high risk industries, products and services. The National Pork Board’s Highly Successful Message “Pork, the Other White Meat” faced serious challenges by competitors. A 2010 Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found that earlier “impact” research at Northwestern University and the broader integrated stakeholder strategy of the pork industry and other commodity associations protected the rights of speech and the industry brand.

Following a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Appeal Board that confirmed the constitutionality of commodity checkoff programs as “government speech,” the U.S. Appeal Board of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia affirms the constitutionality of the dairy producer-funded checkoff program, reversing an earlier decision.

We find especially compelling the
evidence from the Northwestern Study of 2000 showing that
only four other consumer messages in the United States had a
greater degree of recognition than THE OTHER WHITE MEAT.
[Ex. 338] This finding supports a conclusion that
Opposer (Pork)s’ mark is extremely well recognized by a broad
spectrum of consumers, and that this degree of recognition
among the general consuming public of this famous mark also
supports the conclusion that dilution by blurring is likely
upon the introduction of applicant (lobster)’s message into the
marketplace. The case is a mark infringement case

Hearing: Mailed: December 16, 2009 June 11, 2010
Trademark Trial and Appeal Board National Pork Board and National Pork Producers Council
v. Supreme Lobster and Seafood Company, p. 59

So much of marketing communications can seem trivial. Mere selling words and phrases seem so disconnected from the total brand objectives of a company to exist with permission of society to provide products, services, employment, investment and a clean environment.. ( As a society we should expect so much more than merely a “new, proven, free, dependable, convenient and advanced product X.” See list of common selling words below from: New, Proven, Improved, Guaranteed, Free, Tested, Pure, Best, Fresh, Sure, Healthy, Natural, Refreshing, Energizing, Safe, Quality, Dependable, Secure, Advanced, Easy, Convenient, Quick, Instant, Save, Personal.

When the Supreme Court (Dairy) or the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (Pork) rules on a challenge to whether you should be able to promote or market your product as a matter of Constitutional and Trademark law, it seems logical that the marketing goals and practices of that industry probably have more to say than “buy me”. This is the story of how “Pork the Other White Meat”, and other commodity product messages have gained marketing notoriety and success. It is also a story of integrated marketing communications managers building a total branding effort that goes well beyond mere selling language. As addressed in the cases cited above for commodity marketing associations, some marketers must define their “risk industry” products as requiring integrated marketing messaging to stakeholders and customers beyond mere selling messages.

Two works of marketing and law are examined here. In the first case, a seemingly out-of-date piece of research by the authors (1990) (Gronstedt, Caywood, and X ) gained new life as an important piece of evidence for a new case of law (2010) when one of the authors (Gronstedt) testified in the case about the research. In the second case, the authors’ research (and other research) were used extensively by a Trial judge in the U.S. Trademark Office to determine the outcome of an appeal to prevent a corporation from using the brand messaging of the pork industry to market lobster.

Repeating that sometimes marketing seem trivial, we acknowledge that the brief description of the case and research generates more looks of bemusement from our friends and students than attention to social and legal issues.. It does not appear, on its face, to be the story we believe should be told about how commodities and other risk products are more dangerous to consumers and stakeholders unless their messaging is clear and transparent and recognizable.

Research: Case 1

A decade ago the authors were asked by the Tom Hayden, LLD , then President of Bozell Advertising in Chicago IL (now faculty member in the Northwestern University Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) Department) to help conduct a study for their client the Pork industry (National Pork Board). It was not a simple brand study. The owners of the brand were thousands of pork producers (farmers) who contributed a portion of their hard earned income to a “check-off” program to market their commodities in the U.S. and world markets. The experience of one of the authors (Caywood) with other industry associations in the U.S. (beef, dairy) had demonstrated the more complex policy politics of shared governance where thousands of members who paid the fees demanded proof of success and a strong governance role. These organizations also provided extraordinary research and education to society on risk issue regarding their product from “mad cow” disease, to nutrition and food preparation safety. The original research and this summary are a casebook example of what universities with research based professional schools call “research with impact”.

The concept of the “check-off” not usually taught in business schools or IMC programs has given commodity industries like dairy, pork, beef, avocados and other agricultural products in highly fragmented industries a way for producers to cooperate to promote their products where the market buys. The Cattlemen's Beef Board and National Cattlemen's Beef Association’s experience with “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” was not always positive with one spokesperson found to be a vegetarian and one suffering cardiac arrest. Still, as the research reported here notes, the message has been a strong one for the industry. The dairy industry’s experience with their selling message “Got Milk” won a lot of advertising awards, but industry research in the1990’s by the Leo Burnett agency showed that it did not sell as much milk as the producers wished. With the cooperation of one of the author’s stakeholder integrated model, the industry association representing the dairy farmers (producers) moved away from the message to successfully sell more milk enriched cheese, and cheese infused pizza for younger consumers. In the 1990s the industry also began to use a much wider range of communications channels others than traditional mass national TV and magazine ads.


The key work of research used in a trademark case decided in May of 2010 was conducted for the National Pork Board in 1990 by the authors. The national survey concluded that “The Other White Meat” was the fifth most recognized message in the United States the year 2000. As many as 69% of the adult population responded that they recognized the message and could correctly identify it with pork.

Table 1-1 below shows the top 25 messages identified in phase one of the research study in rank order along with the percentages of people that could correctly identify the brand, company or product associated with each message, i.e. said “Yes” on the question if they had heard or seen the message, and also correctly identified the product, brand or company. It ranked higher than such household messages as Nike’s “Just do it” and State Farm’s “Like a Good neighbor.” In fact, it was among the top-ten most recognized messages among all demographic sub-segments analyzed. Moreover, it had one of the strongest associations with the correct brand or product groups of all messages; as many as 88% of respondents who recognized the message would also associate it with pork. This power of the message suggests that the language was far more effective than a mere selling message.


Ranking Slogan Percent
1 You're in Good Hands (Allstate) 81.7%
2 Please Don't Squeeze the ____ (Charmin) 80.4%
3 Snap, Crackle, Pop (Rice Krispies) 80.2%
4 The Breakfast of Champions (Wheaties) 72.5%
5 The Other White Meat (Pork) 69.0%
6 No More Tears (Johnson's Baby Shampoo) 67.5%
7 Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun (Doublemint) 65.6%
8 The King of Beers (Budweiser) 62.8%
9 The Un-Cola (7-Up) 59.2%
10 Like a Good Neighbor (Statefarm) 57.2%
11 Be All That You Can Be (Army) 57.0%
12 Just Do It (Nike) 54.2%
13 Got _____ ? (Milk) 50.6%
14 The Place with the Helpful Hardware Folks (Ace) 48.8%
15 When you Care Enough to Send the Very Best (Hallmark) 48.1%
16 They're Great (Frosted Flakes) 42.5%
17 Don't Leave Home Without It (American Express) 41.4%
18 The Coppertop (Duracell) 41.4%
19 Built_______Tough (Ford) 41.2%
20 The Fabric of Our Lives (Cotton) 37.4%
21 How America Spells Cheese (Kraft) 35.0%
22 Did Somebody Say______? (McDonalds) 33.0%
23 Drivers Wanted (Volkswagen) 30.6%
24 We Bring Good Things to Life (GE) 30.3%
25 The Soup that Eats Like a Meal (Chunky) 29.0%
Sample size: 1,003


The first phase of the study consisted of 126 personal interviews, testing the recognition of a list of 114 messages. The list was generated through research of secondary sources and input from a panel of advertising professional from Bozell Advertising. The personal interviews were used to narrow down the list to 25 messages. It was a combination of 50 mall intercept interviews in Boulder, CO and 76 classroom surveys at Northwestern University. To qualify for participation, respondents had to be over 18 years of age and have command of the English language. The respondents were read the list of 114 messages and were asked to identify the product, brand or company behind the message.

In phase two, the top 25 messages were tested in over 1,000 phone interviews. The interviewer asked the respondents if they had heard or seen the message and the respondents who answered yes were asked to identify the brand, product or company behind the message. A national sample was used and the qualifier was that the respondents were over 18 years of age and did not work in the field of marketing or advertising. The margin of error for the study is +/- 3 percent for the total sample and +/- 5 percent for the subgroups (at a 95% confidence level). It is interesting to note that none of the top ranking messages use what are overtly called selling words or phrases, but they have nevertheless penetrated the memory of the audience,

Case 2: The Legal Case: Pork and Lobster

In this review of national trademark law case we point out that marketing has far more serious integrated messaging to conduct that can be understood by a host of stakeholders including Supreme Court, Federal Court and Trademark Appeal Board judges. A lack of integration means that the creative message may be an isolated and independent group of words that are not linked to key stakeholders including employees, media, shareholders, government, community supplier and more. The public as represented by the press if you look at any recent Wall Street Journal are not interested in selling words; they are reading about takeovers, reduction of workforce, CEO salaries, corruption, the EURO, China business, trade, and other substantive issues (September 29, 2010). The challenge in marketing communications is to make the selling messages relevant, important, and signifying of a wider range of reasons to put a buyer’s confidence in a product or service. Some companies as revealed by research understand this better than most by supporting their brand message as a product message and a corporate/organizational reputational message or integrated communications (Caywood, ed. The Handbook of Strategic Public Relations and Integrated Communications, 1997 revision 2011.

These industries are always under some attack which is why research, public relations and issues management play a key role in their success. The authors’ have called certain organizations “risk industries”. Risk industries are those who market products that are taken internally (drugs, food, beverages) or applied to the skin (cosmetics, hair care, drugs) or used for transportation (autos, motorcycles, airplanes, boats, etc.). They can also be products sold to children, the elderly, poor or other protected social groups. The risk category normally contains food products due to ingestion, safety issues, commodity status and chemical content or use. How many brand marketers and agency leaders have the ability to respond to such attacks by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as “Got Pus” instead of “Got Milk”? The commodities beef industry was also under attack by NGOs and individuals with harsh counter messages such as “Heart attack on a bun” featuring a billboard picture of a hamburger. Commodity foods demand more serious marketing thought and planning beyond mere selling language. In these cases the messages much appeal to higher courts – figuratively and literally.

More than ever, research is needed to protect the trademark but also the reputation of the fragmented, risk commodity industries. The story of how the National Pork Board protected its message “Pork the other white meat” as a leading brand message reveals the value of such messages, the importance of their being more than “selling words”. This case is about a message becoming a “larger brand message supported by the public and protected by the law.

How the Federal Trademark Appeal Board Used the Research

With the breadth of such commodity promotional
messages in the marketplace, there can be no
question that consumers recognize these
messages for what they are, marks designating
the promotion of an industry group as a
whole. As such, these messages function
quintessentially as trademarks.”

Clearly, the Appeal Board judge was impressed with the original Northwestern study, but this discussion is more about how the ruling illustrates the value of a fully integrated marketing program that even those trained in the law understand and appreciate as evidence of impact. The “Opposers’ in this case were the National Pork Board with the National Pork Producers’ Council and the “Applicant” was the Supreme Lobster and Seafood Company. The seafood company had tried to use the well-known brand developed by the pork industry and Bozell Advertising as the “The Other Red Meat” with other variations of use to possibly mimic the “The Other…”. As the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) recounts, the Pork Board had taken their message to a very high and broad level of use to ensure that the highly recognized message was also linked to many marketing channels, customer experiences and frame of mind when thinking about food, family, romance and more.

This rich and integrated use of the creative message was first articulated by Professor Stanley Tannenbaum, one of the four faculty team founders of integrated marketing communications at Northwestern University (Tannenbaum, Schultz, Caywood and Scissors). Ref. Caywood and Ewing). Professor Tannenbaum in 1992, with great verbal and gestured drama, would often note that the integrated message should be “one voice, one look, one feel” across all channels of communications.

To emphasize the IMC linkage, the Trademark Trial Appeal Board documents an A-Z list of marketing communications tactics (Cite: Harris and Whalen, A Marketer’s Guide to Public Relations). They list “shirts, jackets…recipe books, cooking utensils…etc. bearing the mark THE OTHER WHITE MEAT…” The Court was also impressed with the early website (July 2007) which “received almost a hundred thousand daily, unique visitors, with a total of almost six hundred thousand page views”. In some astonishment the Court writes:
The highest volume traffic goes to Opposers' (Pork) web pages having recipes – an
informational service that has proven to be most popular. Perhaps logical to modern marketers and IMC practitioner the Court must seemed amazed at the breadth and depth of ways that a message can be employed when they went on to list other creative uses of the slogan:

Opposers (Pork) have run local and national advertising playing off the mark with tag-lines that read
“The Other Backyard Barbecue,” “The Other Stir-Fry,” “The
Other Romantic Dinner,” “The Other Sunday Brunch,” “The
Other TV Dinner,” “The Other Way to Spice Up Your Love
Life,” “The Other Steak Dinner,” “The Other Prime Rib,” and
“The Other White Protein”

The Appeal Board clearly recognizes the concept that we noted in the introduction to this paper. The complexity of the marketing challenges facing the commodities industries in a high risk agriculture field does not escape the Appeal Board. They see that marketing in the world of “check-off” under government rule, with a fragmented industry of independent business leaders (farmers) of high visibility and high risk consumables is not child’s play for mere selling terms. The Appeal Board clearly recognizes that the industry and their marcom consultants have devoted themselves to establishing the power of the brand with enormous effort, investment, dedication and creativity.
Opposers (Pork) argue that these marks and other like them:
“… function in precisely the same way as
NPB’s mark, as a message to promote the
interests of an entire industry through
marketing aimed at promoting the consumption
of that industry’s principal product,
whether it be fresh beef, cotton fabric, or
whole eggs. These messages pervade the
marketplace. The marks are instantly
recognizable, and their iconic impact aims
to promote not a particular brand of goods,
but rather a service to that commodity
industry as a whole, promoting consumption
of that industry’s principal product.

Here, in black and white, is where we separate the wheat from the chaff of marketing and messaging. The challenge was to show that the applicant (lobster) did not fully understand the nature of stakeholder marketing by associations such as the National Pork Board, Dairy Management or the National Cattlemen’s Association or dozens of other commodity marketing organizations. The Court gives credit to commodity marketing organizations for promoting the commodity but not acting as a government agency to guarantee the product.
However, applicant (lobster) argues that consumers will be
misled and deceived by commodity promotion messages, and
that all such agencies should be scrutinized because of
their inability to control the quality standards of the
commodity being sold.

In an age of increasing food safety issues (cite) it may be that the associations should be more diligent in showing how they do work closely with government agencies and other stakeholders to protect the quality of their member’s product with program like ”Pork Quality Assurance Plus” program and the work of Dairy Management with programs of food safety research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The National Pork Board has adopted a resolution urging all U.S. pork producers to become certified in the Pork Quality Assurance Plus® program by June 30, 2010, and to achieve PQA Plus® site status by Dec. 31, 2010. Additionally, the board is recommending that producers embrace the ethical principles the industry adopted in 2008.

In this important case, the Appeal Board sees the challenge as larger than a simple single brand. The Appeal Board clearly understands the larger stakeholder issues facing the pork industry.

Additionally, this is not a product mark for identifying a
brand of pork. Clearly, the owner of a product mark for
fresh pork who does not control the quality of a
licensee’s products risks a finding that its trademark has
been abandoned. By contrast, the owner of a commodity promotion message
is concerned with the marketing effectiveness of all the
producers, suppliers and vendors within its industry sector
as a whole, whatever the principal product may be.

Opposer (Pork) herein maintains a precise message and focus by
controlling the ways in which their message/mark is used on
the promotion and packaging of pork and pork products. The
ultimate measure of this effort is the level of pork
consumption in the United States as a share of all meat
products, ultimately translating into economic benefit for
all pork producers

The Appeal Board cites as an important reference to valued communications about an industry and its producers to the consumers, the media, government the notion that the Pork Industry (and many other groups) only allow their message to be used in cases of high standards. The message is a validation of the reputation and Total Brand of the industry:

(Contra Midwest Plastic Fabricators Inc. v. Underwriters
Laboratories Inc., 906 F.2d 1568, 15 USPQ2d 1359 (Fed. Cir. 1990)
[Underwriters Laboratories certifies with its well known
symbol that electrical equipment meets safety standards];
In re Celanese Corp. of America, 136 USPQ 86 (TTAB 1962)
[CELANESE certifies plastic toys meeting certifier’s safety


There are many more questions to be addressed. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board document cited throughout contains many more pages of deliberation and debate over the value of this form of branding which should find their way into academic and trade articles testing other concepts of marketing, public relations and business. The authors’ expect to address some of the questions posed by the Appeal Board (not simply because the Appeal Board praised our research). We are embarked on a replication of the original research to retest some of the findings and more developed concepts of a more complex, stakeholder rich, and integrated world of marketing communications.