Public Relations



Client: Alberta Cattle Commission, Calgary

Campaign: If it ain’t Alberta, it ain’t Beef

Agency: In-house

Was it possible to turn an advertising campaign into a media story that everyone would talk about? The Alberta beef industry thought so, and succeeded in doing exactly that.

The Alberta Cattle Commission (ACC), the not-for-profit representing the interests of Alberta beef producers, drew from a program launched during the 1988 XV Winter Olympics in Calgary. The PR program, which used the slogan ‘If it ain’t Alberta, it ain’t Beef’ and was supported by a compelling visual image of three rugged cowboys, had unusual staying power – still in use 13 years later.

But it was time for something new: a powerful media campaign that would build on the equity of the initial campaign, while adding enough new appeal that media would extend the message beyond paid placements. Aiming to sustain beef demand (worldwide consumption had been affected by Mad Cow Disease and E-coli reports), the ACC targeted urban Alberta females 18 to 55 years, both with and without families, since they continue to make most of the food purchasing and cooking decisions.

With budget limited to $800,000 (with a small $100,000 paid advertising budget), the ACC used three real-life female ranchers (later named the Alberta Beef RancHERs) with generations of tradition, as strong, healthy representatives of the Alberta beef industry. The original visual concept and tag were kept.

The PR campaign was launched at two high-profile events in Alberta: the Calgary Stampede and the World Championships in Athletics, in Edmonton. Creative executions were also visible at the restaurant and retail level. And the RancHERs – now celebrities – continue to be sought for personal appearances.

During and following the launch of the campaign, beef demand increased by 6% in Alberta, according to Canfax, the independent organization that provides cattle market information. It also generated nothing but positive media coverage, as well as positive testing in focus groups.


S.C. Johnson, Brantford, Ont., for its ‘Bug-Free Living 2001′ program, created by Harbinger Communications, Toronto


The Second Cup, Toronto, for the ‘What a Year it’s Bean’ campaign, developed by Strategic Objectives, Toronto