Swine flu name makes pig fans sick

After pork producers and Israeli officials complained about the name "swine flu," world health authorities have come up with a new name for the pending pandemic: "the other white flu."

Variations on that joke have been flying around the Internet for days, but to Brian Gansmann, who was on the team at Bozell, the Chicago ad agency that created "The Other White Meat" slogan for the National Pork Board, the fact that some people think pigs make you sick is no laughing matter. (See Jason Sheehan's screed on the subject here.)

In fact, as soon as he heard about people blaming the noble swine for the flu, Gansmann went out and bought a couple of pork tenderloins."Pork is on par with the boneless, skinless chicken breast when it comes to fat, calories and cholesterol," he says, like the good ad man he used to be. (He's now in the food business full-time.)

Bozell came up with "The Other White Meat" line to rebrand pork about fifteen years ago, and it was an instant hit, Gansmann remembers. The slogan had 87 percent awareness -- which meant that when you said "pork" to a hundred people, 87 would respond with "The Other White Meat." Only Allstate ("You're in good hands") tested higher. And the slogan's usefulness has not diminished, as evidenced by postings on The Daily Pork, the industry web site that's devoting considerable resources to exploding swine flu myths. Even if it takes calling the illness "the other white flu" to do it.

After all, Gansmann says, "I'd rather have the joke going around than the flu."

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