It’s no surprise that a fake-meat burger would feel obligated to sneak into famously carnivorous Chicago. And that’s exactly what Impossible Burger did last night, with a pop-up underground “meateasy,” or speakeasy for faux beef.
For three hours at an undisclosed location on Division Street in Wicker Park, the godless heathens could devour the brand’s plant-based patties, known to uncannily mimic real beef, out of the public eye. Naturally, the fake feast was hidden behind a fake butcher’s fake storefront. There was a jazz band. There were flappers.
Impossible Burger launched the stunt, and surrounding campaign, with Wieden + Kennedy, which the marketer hired as its creative agency earlier this year. Playing on the city’s history with unions, tube steaks and hidden bars, W+K hyped the live event with teasers featuring a fictional non-profit “Chicago Sausage Guild,” up in arms about the invading veggie patty.
An old-time-y PSA evoking Reefer Madness warns children about sizzling burger impostors underfoot, and implores them to report any meateasy locations they see. Posters around Chicago spread similarly pro-meat propaganda. Old-time-y delivery boys stood on corners passing out newspapers (old-fashioned, hand-held, single-use websites) with the location and password for entry to the meat-speakeasy. Social media channels featured promos like posts scrambling the phrase “plant meat” into a jumble of letters, and inviting users to decode it for access to the event.
All in all, it’s a clever effort—self-deprecating, and amusing, or at least the experiential marketing equivalent of a humblebrag. Because let’s be honest. Chicago is not really afraid of a veggie burger.