This Changes Everything: Beyond Meat Goes All-In On Health with New Ad Campaign
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Two months after launching its farmer- and health-centric marketing drive, alt-meat giant Beyond Meat is doubling down on the health aspect of its products with its new This Changes Everything campaign. It comes a few months after its Beyond Steak product was certified as heart-healthy by the American Heart Association (AHA).
The new ad spot features Schitt’s Creek actor Rizwan Manji and comedian and former Saturday Night Live cast member Chris Parnell, honing in on Manji’s character’s excitement about the fact that meat (Beyond’s, in this case) can be healthy.
The 30-second commercial aims to emphasise the health benefits of Beyond Meat’s products – particularly its vegan steak, which eschews the usually longer ingredient lists with a cleaner label using wheat gluten and fava beans as the base and became the first meat product – conventional or plant-based – to receive the AHA certification.
The slot involves Manji getting overly excited after finding out that Beyond Steak is “good for you”, ending up in a sequence where he proclaims everything from cheesesteaks to doing his own stunts as “good for him” – “Everything bad is good for me,” he says. It ends with Parnell’s voiceover saying the good-for-you mantra only applies to Beyond’s alt-meat.
Fighting off the anti-alt-meat lobby
The campaign, which goes live on Monday, takes a more direct approach than the previous There’s Goodness Here, which took a subtler route towards tackling misinformation. It’s an extension of Beyond’s overall goal of educating consumers about the health benefits of plant-based meat after years of coordinated attacks and ad campaigns by the meat lobby.
“There is a considerable gap between the strong health credentials of our products and a broader counternarrative that is now afoot, and this gap appears to have widened,” Beyond CEO Ethan Brown said in an August earnings call.
“This change in perception is not without encouragement from interest groups, who have succeeded in seeding doubt and fear around the ingredients and processes we use to create our and other plant-based meats. Nor is it without contribution from well-meaning yet misguided comparisons of our products to kale salads, versus the animal-based meats they are intended to replace.”
A recent Mintel survey showed that nutrition is the second-biggest reason (35%) for Americans’ reticence to try alt-meat, after flavour (48%). Another study earlier this year found that more Gen Zers in the US want to go vegan for their health than the environment. Health is a regular topic in US mainstream due to alarming and rising rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes- over two-thirds (69%) of Americans are overweight and 36% of are obese.
Brown said plant-based food consumption is “more driven by health”, and there’s been a decline in the health perception of this sector. He cited a Food Marketing Institute study that found 50% of Americans believed plant-based meats were healthy in 2020, compared to just 38% in 2022.
Plus, there’s the fact that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US – and this is why the Californian alt-meat giant is banking on Beyond Steak’s AHA certification as an effective marketing tool. “If you look at Beyond Steak, it’s absolutely delicious – you have such high levels of protein and a gram of saturated fat,” Brown said in August. “Those things matter when the consumer is willing to come in.”
Turning a corner with the health focus
Beyond has had a tough run over the last couple of years, with sales declines, employee layoffs, a class action-lawsuit compounded by the overall decline of the plant-based meat industry in the US, supply chain disruptions across the food sector, and the decrease in consumer adoption of vegan food in the country.
“We know that health is a top driver to the plant-based meat category, so we wanted to emphasise our products’ key nutritional benefits, including Beyond Steak’s heart-healthy credentials, while still communicating their great taste to elevate these products for consumers who are looking for plant-based meat options that not only taste incredible but are better for them and their families,” Beyond’s SVP for brand marketing, Akerho Oghoghomeh.
The company is hoping to push the health messaging further with the new This Changes Everything campaign. While Beyond Meat and its peers have sometimes been criticised for their long ingredient lists, its Beyond Steak product contains 12 ingredients (many of which are spices or natural flavourings) with no ‘hard-to-pronounce’ elements, offers a21g of protein per serving and is low in saturated fat at just 1g for each serving.
Beyond also stresses that all its meat products contain no cholesterol, GMOs, or added antibiotics and hormones, and adds that its new sausages have 40% less saturated fat than a leading conventional sausage brand.
The new ad campaign is slightly louder than the last one, mirroring the approach adopted by Beyond’s traditional alt-meat competitor Impossible Foods, whose Making Meat History campaign is a more direct retaliation to the anti-vegan marketing campaigns by meat industry lobby groups.
Beyond entered the year on an optimistic financial note, with its Q1 2023 earnings (while down year-on-year) exceeding Wall Street projections. Now, the plant-based leader– which says its steak is the best-selling alt-meat product in US retail – is expecting sharper revenue growth in the second half of the year. Will this new health-focused ad campaign help it go Beyond? Only time will tell.