USMEF unveils integrated beef imaging campaign in South Korea |

USMEF unveils integrated beef imaging campaign in South Korea

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) this week unveiled a multimedia advertising campaign with a “women-to-women” theme designed to raise the visibility of U.S. beef among South Korean consumers and counteract persistent negative images that have lingered since U.S. product reentered the market in mid-2008.

Developed after extensive consumer surveys and testing of the messages with focus groups, the campaign consists of television commercials, print ads and bus ads on the theme of “Trust.” The “Trust” theme will be integrated into other USMEF activities, including retail and foodservice promotions.

“The ads are designed to respond to what Korean consumers have been telling us,” said Jihae Yang, USMEF-Korea director. “In our research, consumers have told us they want to see images of safety and wholesomeness, and they are most receptive to hearing such messages from people like themselves: women who feed U.S. beef to their families. Trust in U.S. beef needs to be rebuilt.”

The ads are built around three women: a rancher, a scientist and a food safety inspector. The women are depicted in their work setting as well as with their children – sending the clear message that these women are both professionals as well as mothers who work to guarantee the safety of the beef they feed to their own families.

The ads are being targeted to women with school-age children who, research shows, are the primary food purchasing decision-makers in the Korean family.

The television ads, which began to air Dec. 9, are running on cable channels with a high proportion of target audience viewership. Similarly, the magazine ads will be placed in women’s publications while the bus ads will be focused on routes that run by the primary shopping districts in Seoul, a metropolitan area of 25 million people. The ads also will be aired on two strategically located jumbotron screens in high traffic areas of the city.

“The time is right to disseminate positive images of U.S. beef to Korean consumers, which in turn will support the impact of retail and restaurant promotions, and other activities in support of the trade,” said Yang.

U.S. beef consumption in Korea is on the rise, according to the local trade. Although the velocity of beef consumption remains below that of the pre-BSE period, there are clear signs of gains in U.S. beef distribution and usage by the foodservice sector, which accounted for an estimated 65 percent of U.S. beef consumption in 2003.

Particularly encouraging is growing usage by small- to medium-size independent barbecue and rib soup establishments, whose collective potential demand for U.S. beef is considered the largest among all sectors. There is also new buying interest by some catering and institutional operators.

“There is growing willingness by small restaurants to use U.S. beef,” said Elly Sung, USMEF/Korea’s assistant marketing manager. “Several months ago, restaurants were reticent to use U.S. beef because of requirements which obligate them to display the country of origin. These concerns are abating.”

Large U.S. beef stocks, purchased late last year when the value of the Korean currency plummeted during the global economic downturn, have clouded domestic wholesale marketplace psychology through the first three quarters of the year. However, USMEF estimates these stocks may have shrunk by about 25 percent in the past two months. According to local traders, as U.S. beef usage increases, the ratio of stocks to annual consumption, seen by local traders as a key health barometer of the market, has declined to more normal levels.

Weekly statistics for U.S. beef exported to South Korea show a steady rebound of sales, with the pace in late November reaching the second-highest level for all of 2009 and the highest level since February.