The popularity of celebrity chefs and TV cooking programs isn't unique to the United States. South Korean consumers are glued to their televisions to watch their favorite cooking gurus and learn the latest in trendy cooking techniques and recipes.
To capitalize on the growing craze, USMEF is partnering with celebrity chef Shin Hyo Seob, a judge on the popular Chef King television program, to promote U.S. chilled pork and encourage year-round consumption.
Frozen pork in Korea is typically considered a lower-quality product, so USMEF is working with chef Shin as part of a multiphase campaign to raise the awareness of chilled high-quality U.S. pork, using Shin and other Korean meat industry professionals as spokespersons. Funding for components of the campaign is provided by the USDA Market Access Program, the Pork Checkoff and the Illinois Soybean Association.
Chef Shin is the model in an ad campaign running through the balance of 2012 that shows four different U.S. chilled pork cuts – belly, collar butt, skirt meat and jowls – with comments from chef Shin saying he enjoys using U.S. pork for his dishes because it is chilled and it makes every dish he prepares better.
The ads, which highlight the flavor of U.S. pork, are displayed in subway stations in Seoul, which serve more than seven million commuters daily.
"Currently, among major Korean retailers, only Top Mart and Costco are selling U.S. pork all year round while Lotte Mart, Homeplus and E-Mart sell it on a spot basis," said Jihae Yang, USMEF-Korea director. "Our goal is both to raise awareness of American pork and to associate it with leading chefs who choose only the best products for their dishes."
In a trade magazine ad targeted toward restaurant developers, USMEF is spotlighting restaurants that are successfully featuring U.S. pork on their menus. Owners or managers of those establishments are quoted in the ads explaining why they choose U.S. pork.
Chef Shin also loaned his voice to a series of radio ads running throughout the summer – the peak pork consumption period in Korea – on why consumers should choose U.S. pork for their dishes.
Yet another element of the campaign is a service that USMEF is offering to meat distribution companies. USMEF is providing a free professional and highly decorative truck wrapping for participating companies with images that depict chilled U.S. pork.
"So far we have 24 trucks wrapped with the USMEF pork messaging and another seven with pork on one side and beef on the other," said Yang. "By the end of the year our goal is to have 50 trucks driving every day through the streets of Seoul, delivering a constant reminder of the quality of American pork."