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Beyond Meat’s first-ever TV commercial features Octavia Spencer asking, ‘What if?’

The key to the company’s growth isn’t with vegetarians, but those Beyond Meat can convince to eat less meat.

Beyond Meat’s first-ever TV commercial features Octavia Spencer asking, ‘What if?’

When it comes to contentious topics, whether it’s politics, sports, or explaining to a 2-year-old why it may not be a good idea to flush Lego down the toilet, experts primarily recommend a soft approach rather than a hard sell.

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The same can be said about a vegetarian or meatless diet.

Of course there are the myriad reasons around overall health and the environment, but shaming people into ditching steak is not a sound strategy.

Beyond Meat knows this.

The brand is launching its first-ever TV commercial today, starring Octavia Spencer and with a cameo by NFLer Todd Gurley, by asking the simple question, “What if?”

This is no hard sell. That’s exactly what Beyond Meat’s chief marketing officer Stuart Kronauge is aiming for. “It’s not about being preachy or judgmental,” she says. “We’re asking a question to define what we stand for as we want this movement to include everyone, wherever they are on their journey.”

Since 2016, Beyond has grown revenue from about $16 million to $300 million last year, in large part by encouraging people simply to start easing some meat out of their diets as opposed to guilting them to go meatless cold turkey (sorry). The company has deals with fast-feeders like McDonald’s and Dunkin, and just this month launched a limited run of plant-based fried chicken for KFC in California.

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It’s also established the Feed a Million+ initiative, focused on serving communities in need, and became a founding partner in The Social Change Fund, an organization started by NBA stars Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony aimed at addressing racial inequalities in nutrition access and health in Black communities. Earlier this month Paul told Forbes, “A lot of people in Black and brown communities, especially in inner cities, they don’t have access to the different fresh fruits and vegetables, or the grocery stores that are close by don’t necessarily carry the things that may be healthier, so you’re not introduced to that. What I would like to do, along with many other things, through The Social Change Fund, is be able to provide that education to kids, no matter where you’re raised.”

Octavia Spencer says she initially got interested in Beyond Meat while trying to eat healthier, and plant-based products have become a part of her diet. In a statement, she said, “I’ve started eating more plant-based meat, and Beyond Meat’s products taste so good, it made the transition a welcomed change. I can’t wait to share the experience I’ve had with more people and invite them to try going beyond too.”

Kronauge says the goal of a spot like this is to let people know they have nutritious, delicious options, while behind the scenes working to make sure that it’s available as widely as possible, whether at restaurants or in grocery stores. “It means that we’re committed to working with others to solve systemic challenges around access to healthier food options,” she says. “While a bold vision to some, we see already happening all around us.”

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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