PORK PRODUCERS TO START SUPER BOWL PUSH

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Pork producers will kick off a new series of television and print ads during the Super Bowl, with the goal of helping pork shed its image as merely a commodity.The campaign will be supported by cross-merchandising tie-ins at the retail level, said an official with the National Pork Producers Council, based here. The tie-ins start this month in a partnership with Mussleman's Applesauce.The

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Pork producers will kick off a new series of television and print ads during the Super Bowl, with the goal of helping pork shed its image as merely a commodity.

The campaign will be supported by cross-merchandising tie-ins at the retail level, said an official with the National Pork Producers Council, based here. The tie-ins start this month in a partnership with Mussleman's Applesauce.

The commercials, two new 30-second spots and two new 15-second spots, depict "vibrant American scenes with pork as the centerpiece," according to a statement from NPPC. The campaign is intended to pick up where last year's "Taste What's Next" campaign left off.

Accompanied by the overture from Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," the commercials are set in upscale restaurants, domestic kitchens and ethnic locales such as a Peruvian-style villa in Santa Fe and a mosque in San Francisco. Notable chefs Emeril LaGasse and Susan Spicer demonstrate the versatility of pork as they prepare it for guests.

"We're trying to show that pork's exciting, and these commercials really convey that, they get to the right side of the brain," Joe Leathers, NPPC's assistant vice president for trade and distribution, told SN.

"We want to take pork out of the commodity class, and show that it's upscale, it's romantic, it's fun, it's hip."

The "Taste What's Next" $20 million marketing campaign, which debuted during the 1995 Super Bowl, has garnered an 86% recognition rate among American adults, according to NPPC. With the new series of ads and promotions in 1996, the council hopes to nudge pork closer to its goal of 60 pounds per capita consumption by 2000.

"The Super Bowl is kind of our launching pad," said Leathers. "That's where we really get to the emotional aspects of pork, through the new commercials."

Aside from the commercials, print ads will appear in major consumer publications such as Life, Ladies' Home Journal, Reader's Digest, Food & Wine, Cooking Light and Country Living.

Beginning in March and running throughout the year, four of the ads will offer recipes, while two will educate consumers about the use of different pork cuts and instruct them in the use of typical pantry items to pair with pork for meals.

Recipes will include teriyaki pork chops, Southern skillet barbecued pork, peach-mustard glaze pork chops and a holiday pork roast. "What we try to do is come in with the new trendy stuff," Leathers said. "There's a recipe that's been developed for stuffing, to make stuffed pork chops -- it's different, everyone loves it."

NPPC will also be advertising during ABC Barbara Walters specials through August of this year.

The partners planned for tie-ins at the store level include Pillsbury's Progresso Bread Crumbs in April, Lipton's Wishbone dressing [for marinade] in July and a continued tie-in with Robert Mondavi wine in a time frame yet to be determined.

Plenty of point-of-sale materials will be available to retailers so that customers are instantly aware of the promotions going on, Leathers said.

"Something like 80% of purchases are impulse, so we want to hit the customer at the top layer of awareness as soon as they get in the store. We do a lot of things with point-of-sale material, some stores will have take-one recipes at the counter and some recipes go right on the package, so they're staring the customers right in the face when they pick up the package."

Some of the tie-in partners will be running freestanding inserts, Leathers said. Leathers emphasized the availability of NPPC staff to help retailers facilitate the promotions. "We have what I call a belly-to-belly relationship with the retailers -- I have four guys that do nothing but call on retail."