Cue the sounds of the late great American composer, Aaron Copland. Today, we’re talking “beef.”
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is known for two things: their ability to collectively and successfully advocate for the more than 1 million cattle farmers and ranchers working across the United States [and] your favorite 90s-era beef campaign — the one where Sam Elliott recites all the mouth-watering meals you're having for dinner."
Today, NCBA advocates on behalf of cattlemen and the nationwide beef industry, influencing laws and representing over 150 legislative issues. So, when they chose Paradowski to help elevate membership, drive participation and moooove hearts, we knew that speaking from a central voice of authority was priority number one. (“Diversity of cow puns” was number two, and we’re still trying to meet our quota. One down, seven to go.)
Due to anti-beef legislation and a rise in “fake meat” products, NCBA was facing a steady decline in membership. In order to succeed, the organization needed to increase engagement with new members, and strengthen that commitment with the rest of its herd (that’s two!). To revitalize interest, NCBA started looking for a new approach.
Backed by research, Paradowski got to work on an engagement campaign focused largely on the organization’s lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C. We called it Black & White, underscoring the starkness of choice facing U.S. cattle producers, and nodding to the two-tone Holsteins making up one of the most prominent cattle breeds.
In both messaging and visuals, we wanted to make it clear to our audience that joining NCBA would mean value and representation for their operation, regardless of size.
"The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is your strongest ally against the greatest challenges facing American ranchers. Your NCBA membership supports our ability to advocate on your behalf regarding issues that impact your bottom line, and your way of life. We believe there’s a right way to legislate and regulate. And there’s also a wrong way. It’s as clear to us as black and white."
Still, there was a question driving us udder-ly mad: How could we effectively showcase the livelihood of cattlemen, without seeing it for ourselves?
A select team of shooters, art directors, an account leader and a fearless creative director saddled up (whew, halfway there) and made way for the wild, wild West.
Over the course of just three days — with the help of NCBA’s then-president Kevin Kester and about a hundred of his beefy friends — we shot and filmed an entire library of photo and video assets. Those cattle (along with a special herd from Illinois) became the face of all print collateral, direct mail, TV ads and truck graphics.
Altogether, the integrated campaign involved assets across print, radio, TV, direct mail — even a campaign microsite, where the history and vitality of the NCBA was able to come to life.
The “Black & White” campaign called the cows home (...we’re so close...), generating 415 new members in its first run. The campaign microsite added to the success, collecting over 200 initial page views, with web analytics showing more than half the site visitors clicking through to learn about membership enrollment.
After winning first place at the National Agri-Marketing Association Awards in Spring 2019, extending the campaign to new mediums (like NCBA trade show materials) and corralling the attention of an entirely new group of members, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association could confidently tell cattle farmers, ranchers and the nation:
Beef. It’s What’s For Winners.