Launching and defining a new brand in a new category.
The plant-based meat market was in its early stages in 2018, when Meatless Farm’s founder Morten Toft Bech arrived at the Nexus office with his plant-based mince and a clear ambition. Yes, he needed PR support for the brand’s first listing. But more importantly, he wanted to grow a brand that could pioneer a new market not just in the UK but globally too. And all with the mission of reducing the world’s dependency on intensively farmed meat. This was the beginning of a partnership that has lasted almost 6 years.
At the time of launch, the UK plant-based meat market had traditionally been led by legacy plant-based meat brands. The products that Meatless Farm were bringing to the market were totally unique and signalled a new generation of meat alternatives. However, with this the brand needed to overcome legacy perceptions that plant-based meat was unexciting and tasteless – a dry bean burger or shrivelled sausage dug out from the depths of a freezer.
As the plant-based meat market has continued to grow over the last 5 years – and with it the quality and frequency of plant-based brands – this challenge has evolved. It’s been essential for the brand to demonstrate its leadership and create cut through.
At the time of launch over a third of British consumers cited an interest in reducing their meat consumption but not many knew about the environmental impact of their food.
Data also showed that taste and texture were the two biggest barriers for British consumers trialling plant-based meat products. Whilst this echoed the legacy perceptions of plant-based meat, it provided a clear opportunity for the brand to challenge the “floppy” reputation of alternatives.
Strategy & Approach
The brand needed to speak to a more mainstream, meat-eating audience. This strategy would help drive its mission of reducing the world’s dependency on intensively farmed meat. It was also where the largest market opportunity was. The brand needed to be joyous and inclusive. It would not be preachy or worthy. It would encourage the masses to make small changes, as opposed to encouraging an all or nothing approach. The approach was worlds apart from how the market and traditional brands had communicated.
For a new brand on the market, it was essential we dominated the trade press, to drive credibility and awareness amongst a decision-making audience. We also needed to launch the brand more broadly across the media and establish its relationships and reputation.
A key part of this was creating the Meatless Consumption Target. This provided a powerful platform for us to communicate to press and help position the brand as a forward-thinking, purposeful and innovative leader in plant-based food.
Working with leading scientist, Dr Joseph Poore, we developed original research to create the Meatless Consumption Target. It showed if every UK household swapped to one more plant-based meat meal a year it’d reduce the UK’s GHG emissions by 50m tonnes, equivalent to taking 16m cars off the road. We held a roundtable press event with top tier media, experts and MPs in attendance. We drove consumer press and digital engagement with ambassadors Frankie Bridge and Isaac Carew. We even got the research mentioned in the House of Commons.
Beyond the brand’s launch, we established a hard-working press office across the brand’s key channels; retail trade, foodservice, corporate and consumer. We ensured we were not only partaking in but leading sector conversations on the sector and the role that plant-based meat can play in daily British food culture.
We ran an ‘always on’ corporate press office, as a fast-growth business in a new sector means working extra hard to demonstrate credibility and drive investment. The business press and pages of national media became essential in the brand’s growth and supporting its commercial ambitions. From ITV News to The Times, we positioned the brand and its founder as the leading voice of the next generation meat alternatives.
Key to our communications was challenging the legacy perceptions of plant-based meat and the cultural ritual of eating meat. Our consumer media strategy and messaging played an important role in this. We also amplified it with experiential activity that drove trial, awareness and engagement at key moments for the brand.
This included launching the M*** F*** Drive Thru, which turned the idea that plant-based meat was boring and tasteless on its head. We wanted to drive brand cut through at a crucial time in the brand’s growth just as the UK was opening up again post-lockdown. There were some restrictions still in place so a drive thru became an effective way of achieving this safely. We collaboratively developed the overall M*** F*** campaign with the drive thru as the news activation. We partnered with cult street food brand, Mother Flipper, and overhauled a central London site to create the experience. We pre-launched to media announcing the opening and again on launch day with further outreach, resulting in two widespread coverage hits. We extended the conversation with key audiences through unpaid UGC and media visits. The award-winning activation gave consumers and media a brand experience that was well timed after lockdown as well as achieving major broadcast and national media coverage. It gave a powerful opportunity to drive awareness beyond a vegan and vegetarian audience.
We’ve driven strategic campaigns behind the brand’s NPD over the past 5 years. An excellent example of this is how we helped support the launch of its new sausage roll. The media planning for this activation started at the beginning of the year, we teased a mock-up of a sausage roll vending machine on social media for April Fools day. The comments rolled in (excuse the pun) and the public were calling for their dreams to be made true. So, we created a giant sausage roll vending machine and put it on London’s Southbank. Influencers, media and consumers attended in their masses, with the queue reaching well along the riverbank for the best part of the day.
We even partnered with legend Levi Roots to help launch the brand's chicken breast. To drive news and social conversation we created the M*** F*** Jerk Joint, a unique brand experience to engage media, influencers and consumers. We helped the brand to claim a significant share of voice during a key trading period, Veganuary.
As the market evolved, we continued to adapt and build on the brand and communications strategy. We created an important platform for the brand in its initial stages and continued to build on its transparency, credibility and quality.
This strategy has continued to support the brand in its global growth journey. Launching into multiple new markets over the past 5 years, we worked alongside our global agency partners and the brand to secure consistent yet market relevant comms. From global tool kits to even replicating the M*** F*** Drive Thru, we helped ensure it secures its place as an exciting, purposeful brand with delicious products - that even meat-eaters will enjoy.
Results & Learnings
- Over 5 years we achieved over 2,000 media articles with a reach of 900M+.
- We continued to engage the media across the core channels, driving long-term relationships and ongoing cut through.
- We helped the brand grow from a small start up to a global challenger in one of the world’s most exciting markets.
M*** F*** - Meatless Farm
Growing Meatless Farm into an established, loved brand. Launching and maintaining long-term traction for a new brand, in a new sector. From re-shaping traditional attitudes to cutting-edge activations, this work has drive growth, value and plenty of brand love.