Beyond Meat has trotted out a couple of big names from sports and Hollywood for its first television ad, leaning further into its longstanding relationships with its celebrity fans and investors.
The 60-second brand anthem, which debuted during the NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Utah Jazz on Monday night, also stars a friendly cow and a veggie farmer, so Beyond’s sustainability and wellness messages share the spotlight with A-listers Octavia Spencer and Todd Gurley.
The ad, from agency Mythology, is the Los Angeles-based brand’s latest shot across the bow in what’s shaping up to be a period of intense competition and explosive growth for plant-based meat companies.
While summer 2019 saw the faux burger wars break out between Beyond, Impossible Foods and other players, 2020 has been a flurry of near-continuous news about the category. Leaders and emerging brands in the plant-based protein space have gobbled up more traditional retail shelf space, while bulking up their online and direct-to-consumer sales.
And though restaurants have suffered during the pandemic, fake-meat marketers have continued to expand their reach, a la Beyond’s deal with KFC for chicken-less chicken in Southern California and Impossible’s alliance with Starbucks for sausage breakfast sandwiches.
The leadership at Beyond, propelled by the most successful IPO of last year, describes its new campaign—“What If We All Go Beyond?”—as an initial call to action, with efforts like community engagement and more influencer programs still to come.
The spot, shot in Australia with some stock footage added, mentions a host of Earth-first and better-for-you tidbits. The product has no cholesterol, requires less land and energy to manufacture, and releases fewer greenhouse gases into the air, according to Spencer’s voiceover.
“What if just taking the animal out of the meat made us and our planet healthier?” asks Oscar winner Spencer in the video. (Both she and NFL’s Gurley are Beyond ambassadors.)
The brand aims to start “a movement,” inviting people “to join us in a journey of creating the future of food,” said Stuart Kronauge, Beyond’s CMO, in a statement. “We want to show people how small actions collectively can make a big impact.”
Beyond and many contenders in the space are appealing to flexitarians and other meat eaters who are increasingly interested in swapping out red meat for plant-based options. Those consumer numbers have swelled this spring, since coronavirus outbreaks at the country’s slaughterhouses disrupted the food system for animal protein.
Against that backdrop, fake meat sales have soared by triple digits. Beyond and Impossible have also been highly visible through their food giveaway programs and social justice outreach. Impossible aligned with Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp, while donating more than 100,000 pounds of product to essential workers, underserved communities and local food banks.
Beyond, similarly, has signed on as a founding sponsor for the Social Change Fund from athletes Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony. And the brand has surpassed its Feed a Million+ goal with more than 5 million burgers served.
And on the distribution front, Beyond has expanded its reach with a couple of new retail deals, including popular convenience store chain Wawa. Beyond’s faux sausage, in the form of Sizzli breakfast sandwiches, will be on sale starting next week at the chain’s 870 stores from Pennsylvania to Florida.
And Beyond’s plant-based burgers are now available at Sam’s Club, following a test at the club store, and BJ’s Wholesale. (Costco’s been a vendor since last year.)
The brand, which has become a staple at 25,000 retailers like Kroger, Pavilions, Walmart, Target and Vons, was looking for “the white space,” with club stores representing “the next logical step” to reaching more mainstream consumers, according to Chuck Muth, Beyond’s chief growth officer.
Beyond has started offering family-size packages, good for bulk stores and stockpiling consumers, especially during lockdown. The brand has also focused its efforts on discounts, trying to bring its pricing closer to conventional animal protein.