In a new ad campaign, Impossible Foods calls its plant-based burger “meat.” Can it do that?

The ads aren’t really intended to fool anyone. Their aim is much bolder: to redefine “meat” itself.


by Joe Fassler, The Counter 



The commercial opens with a close-up of a grill: raw pink burger patties sizzling in their fat, some draped with waxy layers of melting American cheese. A spatula flips a fresh slider, and its tender side hits the hot surface in a crackle of grease.


“We love meat,” a gruff, male voice intones. “Red meat. Cooked meat. Bubbly meat. Meat with cheese on it. More meat with cheese on it.”


It’s a recognizable formula, the same brand of burger porn that fast-food chains have beamed into American living rooms for decades. But this incarnation ends with a subversive twist: A kitchen timer dings, and the camera cuts to a package of Impossible Foods ground “beef.” A hand slaps down a “made from plants” decal. Turns out, everything we’ve just seen is vegan.


The ad is one of three in Impossible Foods’ first national TV campaign, “We Are Meat,” which was designed by the creative agency Wieden+Kennedy and began airing across the country this month. The other two commercials revel in the same hedonistic, flame-broiled imagery, playing to our presumed carnivorous instincts before tearing back the curtain: The “meat” you just ogled was actually made from plants.


On a superficial level, the point is obvious. Impossible is bragging about the hyper-realism of its imitation ground beef—made from processed soy protein, coconut oil, and other plant-derived ingredients—which looks and tastes much like the real thing, according to fans and boosters. These veggie burgers are so lifelike, the ads suggest, that you could slip them into a Big Mac and no one would know.


But there’s more here than a simple sleight-of-hand...


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