Grandpa Bill is on the hill
With someone he just married.
There he is at ninety-three,
Doin’ what comes naturally.
—Irving Berlin, Annie Get Your Gun, 1946
On Dec. 29, 2006, my wife, Peggy, and I had just made a shopping list for the New Year’s Eve dinner that we would be serving. The centerpiece was to be a standing rib roast.
The following morning, I opened the The New York Times and came across a story by Andrew Pollack and Andrew Martin titled, “F.D.A. Says Food From Cloned Animals is Safe.” The most disturbing paragraph:
Opponents hope to bring Congressional pressure to bear to derail the policy before it becomes final or at least to require that such foods be labeled so consumers can choose to avoid them. F.D.A. officials said that it was unlikely that labeling would be required because food from cloned animals is indistinguishable from other food, although a final decision about labeling has not been made.
Quite simply, cloning is not “doin’ what comes naturally.”
I find the idea of selling cloned meat secretly—hiding the fact from the consumer that it has been unnaturally produced—to be disgusting.
Any food producer that does that deserves to be put out of business.
Here’s how to do it.
Does Anybody Remember BSE?
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (a.k.a. Mad Cow Disease) hit Britain 20 years ago, causing the death of nearly 200,000 head of cattle, and resulting in the slaughter of five million more.
The disease jumped from cattle to humans, killing some 160 people worldwide.
The cause was ranchers grinding up old, worn-out cattle and mixing it in the feed.
Cattle are herbivores—grass and plant eaters. They do not eat meat. Feeding cattle to cattle is not “doin’ what comes naturally.”
Cattle and people die as a result.
Farm to City
My neighbor down the street, Bob Pierson, is one of the smartest guys I know. He has an advanced degree in science, plays creditable violin and runs the Philadelphia Farm to City program. During the spring, summer and fall, Amish farmers bring their splendid produce to street markets throughout Philadelphia—wonderful greens, vegetables, fruits, tomatoes—oh, the tomatoes!—meats, breads, pies, and corn picked that morning.
Thanks to Bob Pierson, Philadelphians can have the best of both city and country.
At one point, Pierson and I got talking about raising chickens, and he told me that when hens get too old to lay eggs, some farmers grind them up and mix the mess in with the chicken feed.
I was revolted. Chickens are herbivores. Feed them chicken or beef and then eat their eggs—or the chickens—and who knows what will turn up in your brain tomorrow or 10 years hence.
Feeding chickens to chickens is not “doin’ what comes naturally.”
As a result, I buy only eggs that guarantee on the carton that they were raised cage free, were grain or veggie fed, and were not given antibiotics or animal byproducts.
Do I pay a little more? Probably.
But my chances of dying a horrible death from a yet undiscovered mad chicken disease are cut to nil.
Two days ago, I grabbed a small package of bananas that looked ripe at the local Super Fresh (A&P subsidiary). When I got them home, I noted how each one had a sticky label that proclaimed “Bonita, Ecuador, Organic.”
I would’ve done as well with a piece of cardboard or Styrofoam. The taste would’ve been the same and it would’ve been cheaper.
Last September-October, some 30 brands of spinach—a number of them “organic”—were pulled from the market because of an E. coli epidemic that hit nearly 200 people nationwide and caused several deaths and 29 cases of kidney failure.
I’m no fan of “organic.” I’d guess neither are the families of those people who died and suffered kidney failure from organic spinach that had been infected with E. coli.
So What About Cloned Meat?
I simply don’t know.
And I don’t care—so long as cloned meat is labeled “Cloned Meat.”
I looked up Dolly, the sheep that was cloned in 1997 in Scotland. Domestic sheep can live up to 20 years. Dolly had arthritis and died at the young age of five from lung disease.
What else was going on inside Dolly—deep in her DNA?
I do not like to think about it.
But if I were in the non-cloned meat business, I would be shouting “Eureka!”
Pre-emptive Advertising: The Jay Abraham Solution
An American marketing legend is West Coast Wizard Jay Abraham, whose ebullience, energy and intellect are—in a word—dazzling. He burns like a nuclear fuel rod.
A student of marketing history, Abraham believes in “pre-emptive advertising”—a technique devised by the great advertising genius of the 1920s and 1930s, Claude Hopkins. Jay Abraham wrote:
Let me tell you a story. You may have heard it before, but it’s a classic example of the power of preemptive advertising … Back in 1919, Schlitz beer was the #10 beer in the marketplace. Claude Hopkins, the classic marketing strategist after whom I’ve patterned my life, was called in to salvage the marketing of this #10 beer and lift it to success.
When he walked into the brewery, the first thing he did was learn how the beer was made. He toured the facilities and he saw that Schlitz was located right on the banks of one of the Great Lakes. And even though they were right there with this unlimited water source, they had dug five, 4,000-foot artesian wells right next to Lake Michigan because they wanted pure water.
The brewers showed Claude a mother yeast cell that was a result of about 2,500 different experiments that had been done to find the quintessential yeast to make the proper taste. They showed him five different, three-foot-thick, plate glass rooms where beer was condensed and redistilled and re-condensed for purity. They showed him the tasters that tasted the beer five different times. They showed him where the bottles were cleaned and re-cleaned 12 times. They showed him the whole process. At the end, he was incredulous.
He said, “My God, why don’t you tell people the process that your beer goes through?”
And they said, “Because that’s how ALL beer is made. It’s nothing special; it’s nothing unique.”
And he said, “Yes, but the first person who tells the public about this will gain preemptive advantage.”
He got Schlitz to the #1 position in about six months—using preemptive advertising, windfall profits are virtually assured.
One of the lines Hopkins used for Schlitz was, “Bottles washed with live steam!”
At the time, all beer bottles were washed with live steam.
But Schlitz said it first. All that its competitors could say was, “Ours are too!”
Cashing in Big on Cloned Meat
For some savvy meat producer, the possibility that cloned meat will be surreptitiously brought to market represents a type of marketing that I’ve never seen in my lifetime.
The first requirement is a corporate spokesperson—someone likeable and absolutely trustworthy. Some recent examples:
* Frank Perdue: “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.”
* Lee Iacocca for Chrysler: “If you can find a better car, buy it!”
* Victor Kiam of Remington: “I liked the shaver so much I bought the company.”
* David Oreck: “Try my eight-pound Oreck vacuum cleaner free.”
Others of note: Orville Redenbacher, Martha Stewart, Richard Branson and KFC’s avuncular “Colonel” Harlan Sanders.
The slogan of this spokesperson:
My beef lives on the range and is produced nature’s way. It is not cloned and will never be cloned. It is grass- and grain-fed only, with no hormones, no antibiotics, no genetic engineering. I guarantee my beef is delicious—the very best you can buy anywhere in the world. I love eating it, and I am proud to serve it in my home and to make it available to you and your family. Enjoy!
This would catch every other beef producer flatfooted. All they could say is, “Uh … well, uh, that goes for us, too.”
The beef of all other producers is instantly suspect.
That simple 76-word statement taps into five of the eight key copy drivers—the emotional hot buttons that make people act:
1. Fear (of eating any tainted meat)
2. Guilt (at the possibility of feeding your loved ones lethal food)
3. Anger (that greedy agri-business would secretly sell you cloned meat)
4. Flattery (you’re very smart to see what’s going on)
5. Salvation (that comes with knowing you’ll live a long time because you eat healthy food produced the natural way)
“Preemptive advertising is the single most powerful technique you could ever use,” writes Jay Abraham. “And no one uses it.”