CONFERENCE REPORT: Meat with a side of humor
Feb. 22, 2017
by Bob Sims
Damian Mason spoke at the Annual Meat Conference on Feb. 19.
DALLAS – Covering everything from the agenda of some vegetarians to marketing campaigns for the industry while mixing in a spot-on impression of former president Bill Clinton, Damian Mason had most attendees rolling in the aisles during the opening session Feb. 19 at the 2017 Annual Meat Conference.
Mason’s professional speaking chops shined as he shared anecdotal interactions involving vegetarians who eat chicken, his youth on a dairy farm and ideas for how the meat industry has an opportunity fight back by utilizing the marketing approach the National Rifle Association (NRA) has used successfully for years, rather than economics and science.
“The NRA goes straight to emotion, self-interest and patriotism,” Mason said. It’s a tactic that makes believers dig in on the side of their beliefs. It’s something that Mason believes the meat industry could benefit from. “People in our country are extremely entrenched in what they believe as it relates to food or firearms.”
He mentioned a marketing idea that caught the attention of almost everyone in the room. The opportunity to give food shoppers social credit and recognition (the ability to show others they care and make a difference) for doing “the right thing,” a trend he believes is a way for the meat industry to capitalize.
He referenced the Tom’s Shoes model in which a company sends a pair of shoes to someone without shoes for every pair of shoes purchased. He suggested that companies upsell products by raising prices and donating meat to those in need for every meat product purchased by an American consumer. This gives consumers the opportunity to help those in need with their purchase, and receive social credit for doing so.
Mason also spoke about “the story” behind food. He suggested shoppers today are more interested in the story behind food and less interested in production efficiencies. “It’s not 1950 anymore,” he said.
While Mason is obviously a gifted public speaker with a sense of humor and a pro-industry message, he is credentialed for the topic matter he covered. He grew up the son of a dairy farmer and now owns a small beef farm in Indiana as well as having a degree in agricultural economics from Purdue Univ.