Beef Is Back for Dinner: 25-Year Campaign Still Appeals to Millennials

A new logo, digital hub and stories about the people behind beef production will introduce the 25-year-old “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” campaign to a new generation of consumers.

Launching Oct. 9 with digital advertising and a new digital platform at, the social media campaign provides an interactive experience on all things beef—from cuts and cookery, popular recipes, to an inside look at the lives of the people who raise beef.

To launch the campaign, NCBA has produced an online-only ad based on the familiar children's song, "Old McDonald Had a Farm," with a new twist to celebrate the heritage of ranching while shedding light on the technological advances of raising food today.

 “Consumers love beef, and as with all foods, today's consumers want the whole story about the beef they buy," says Alisa Harrison, senior vice president, Global Marketing and Research, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a contractor to the beef checkoff, which funds the campaign. "Our research shows that the “Beef. It's What's For Dinner.” brand is still extremely popular among consumers, including millennials. So, in honor of its 25th Anniversary, we have refreshed the brand and updated our resources to make beef information available to consumers where they want it, when they want it and how they want it."

When the “What’s for Dinner” tagline first aired, the association had a marketing budget of around $80 million to $90 million a year, reports the Wall Street Journal. Today that figure is closer to $30 million, because cattle are more efficient due to "improved genetics and nutrition."

More Information About Where Food Comes From

 The new series of videos and content will feature only real farmers and ranchers from across the country. While cattle and beef are raised differently in California than in Florida, or Iowa or Washington, the passion and commitment to care for the animals and land is the same. Consumers will learn about each step of the beef production process, from the farms and ranches, to feedlots, to processing and retail and to the consumer.

"Today's farmers and ranchers blend time-honored traditions with cutting edge innovations to raise beef, from drones and GPS tracking on the range to apps and other electronic tools that ensure precise and nutrient-filled rations in the feedbunk," she said. Later in the year, new advertisements that celebrate beef's unique qualities as a protein source will launch to appeal to consumers' genuine love for beef, along with virtual tools such as 360 degree videos that show how beef goes from pasture to plate.

Instead of traditional advertising, the Beef Checkoff bought ad space from Facebook and Instagram, and invested in search engine marketing.

"Digital is a powerful medium that turns marketing on its head because of the power given to the consumer. Instead of telling people what to think, digital platforms – whether it's or the Beef. It's What's For Dinner. Facebook page or Instagram feed – allow people to discover beef the way they want to," Eric Baumgartner, VML executive vice president said.