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ConAgra Foods is launching a national TV ad campaign proclaiming its Hebrew National beef hot dogs to be more nutritious than frankfurters sold by its competitors, according to a report by CattleNetwork.com.
One 30-second spot shows a cow beneath the slogan, "No Ifs, Ands or Butts," a reference to the company's assurance that its kosher dogs, prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary law, contain nothing from the rear portion of the bovine anatomy. The ad ends with the brand's motto: "Hebrew National. We Answer to a Higher Authority."
ConAgra, based in Omaha, Neb., is betting that Hebrew National's customers -- many of whom aren't Jewish -- view its kosher designation as an affirmation of the product's purity relative to other hot dogs, which are often pieced together from low-quality pork, beef, chicken or turkey. According to the American Meat Institute, meats bearing the kosher designation generally have had certain veins and arteries removed, as well as the sciatic nerve. A rabbi supervises the frankfurters' production process, ConAgra says.
In its ads, ConAgra also says Hebrew National franks contain no artificial colors, flavors or "fillers." Jon Harris, a spokesman for Sara Lee, maker of Best's Kosher and Ball Park brands, says "There's nothing fundamentally different in the range of nutritional values between an all-beef kosher hot dog, and an all-beef non-kosher hot dog."
One Hebrew National frankfurter weighs 49 grams, contains 150 calories, six grams of saturated fat, 370 milligrams of sodium and one gram of carbohydrates. One of Sara Lee's Ball Park Singles beef frankfurters weighs 45 grams, and has 150 calories, five grams of saturated fat, 440 milligrams of sodium and three grams of carbohydrates.
The campaign comes as hot-dog sales are steadily falling as increasingly health-conscious Americans sample ever-growing food options, the Cattle Network report said. The only segment of the hot-dog business experiencing modest growth is premium hot dogs, often larger and more flavorful than old-fashioned skinny franks.
To revive interest, Kraft Foods and Sara Lee have also recently introduced prepackaged microwaveable hot dogs to please time-pressed consumers.
ConAgra expects to spend more than $10 million over the next two years on its Hebrew National campaign. The 15- and 30-second spots feature an illustration of a cow on which the animal's front is designated "kosher" and its back, "non-kosher." To target mothers, the ads are running on ABC, NBC and the Style network, among others, particularly around shows like "The View," "All My Children" and "Law & Order."
ConAgra also is heavily promoting its kosher dogs at major-league ballparks. At Detroit's Comerica Park, for instance, it will run a contest to find the best "Higher Authority Hawker." One person per game, caught by a stadium camera eating a Hebrew National hot dog, will be led to a private suite to watch the rest of the game. In Boston, ConAgra has signed up retired Red Sox great Fred Lynn to pitch Hebrew National franks.