How the vegans won Super Bowl LIII

Something game changing happened in the first quarter of the NFL’s biggest game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots. The first plant-based burger ad aired.

On the most expensive media moment of the year, where ad space costs as much as $5.25 million for a mere 30 seconds, Carl’s Jr decided to promote their new plant-based Beyond Burger.

I cheered. I jumped out of my chair. The drought was over. Our team finally scored.

Inasmuch as Beyond and Cena Vegan are in the same category and are (or will be) vying for customers looking for plant-based alternative meats, this was a victory for our entire category. And for a way of life we have been supporting.

As a marketer, it is always easy to be an arm-chair quarterback and critique the creative execution. Who cares about the execution when the message was so loud and clear?

For the first time, millions and millions of people (about 93% of whom were eating chicken, pork, beef and dairy) had a plant-based meat alternative prominently promoted. It signals the opportunity and scope of the market and the desire of a large audience of consumers hungry for vegan products.

A large company dipped its toes into the waters of plant-based living. It put its money on the green team. It said loud and clear, “There is a huge growing base of people who want to eat better. They want to feel better. They don’t want to harm animals and our planet. And we are going to let them know we hear them.”

Seriously. That’s what a marketing spend of $5.25 million says. Carl’s Jr wasn’t promoting their burger just for the hell of it. Advertising during the Super Bowl is big money and that investment is expected to generate bigger returns. They did the research. They know what’s out there. It’s us.

So no judging and no snipes for the rest of the menu at their restaurants. Carl’s Jr is to be congratulated for seeing the future. It’s a first step. Maybe not as big as walking on the moon (NASA deniers please refrain). But pretty damn large.

We aren’t a preachy company. We advocate for plant-based and think it’s the inevitably better future. From the comfort of my favorite chair, I got to watch it grow up in 1080p. And in the afterglow of the moment, I could also see the floodgates are now open for more plant-based products to take their rightful place in the public eye. This was no fluke.

So here’s to Beyond Meat and Carl’s Jr. You scored one for the vegans. And in doing so, everyone on the planet gets the win. Even those dreaded Patriots.


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