Looking Back At Top PR Campaigns For Veganuary 2020

Veganuary, the annual drive to encourage consumers to adopt a vegan lifestyle for a month, is no doubt growing in popularity. Each year, participants give up animal-based products for the duration of January, including meat and seafood, dairy, eggs, and other items such as leather.

Since 2014, Veganuary has encouraged and supported more than half a million people in 178 countries to try a vegan lifestyle for January - and beyond. The campaign has also inspired a multitude of FMCG and foodservice companies to take part in the event - more so this year than ever before.

Here, our Public Relations team reviews our top three Veganuary 2020 product launches and PR, social media and content marketing campaigns carried out to mark the occasion.

  1. Greggs – the king of Veganuary?

Top of the list has to be the Greggs Vegan Steak Bake, made from Quorn pieces. The idea for this product came about after the Bakery giant introduced the Vegan Sausage roll in 2019.

Although it was considered controversial by some (we’re looking at you Piers Morgan), the sausage roll was a huge hit for thousands, with stores across the country selling out almost immediately on the day of its launch. In fact, the snack was so well received by both its regular customers and its new-found Vegan audience that Greggs chose to add it as a permanent offering.

Like the sausage roll, the Vegan Steak Bake has also gone down a storm, with customers at some stores queuing out of the doors throughout the day to get their hands on the ‘not so meaty’ alternative to Greggs' second favourite offering.

The launch of the Vegan Steak Bake was supported by a hugely successful PR and social media campaign, which included the UK media receiving ‘tip offs’ about the launch for months leading up to January, as well as teaser posts across social media. The strategy also included a journalist product drop and a movie-like trailer to announce the release.

The result; a sell-out product, a top trending hashtag, which created even more engagement for Greggs, and coverage within national newspapers and international news titles including CNN. The product also featured on a multitude of popular TV Shows including The Last Leg and Good Morning Britain (annoying Piers Morgan once more).

Back in 2019, thanks to a hard-hitting launch campaign the vegan sausage roll resulted in the chain experiencing a phenomenal 58% increase in profits during the first half the year! It will be interesting to see if the Vegan Steak Bake has a similar impact. Watch this space for an update when it is available. 

  1. Heinz – No changes needed

Not a new product launch, but still effective was Heinz’ campaign to remind consumers that its products are and always have been suitable for Vegans.

Throwing its support behind Veganuary, the baked beans giant launched it ‘Beanz Meanz Vegan’ campaign which is a play on the brand’s iconic slogan ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’. The main focus of the strategy was to show those attempting to go Vegan that it doesn’t have to be complicated, with Heinz’ beans being an easy, affordable option during Veganuary and all year round.

In keeping with this Heinz also kept their campaign simple with a limited-edition range of ‘Beanz Meanz Vegan’ cans and a variety of out-of-home, press and paid social ads throughout the month. The brand also commissioned research to understand the biggest barriers and challenges of Veganuary in a bid to help those partaking in 2020.

One of the most interesting findings, which helped shape the basis for the whole campaign was that many people steer away from a plant-based diet due to a perception that making or accessing vegan foods on a daily basis is difficult. The high cost associated with a vegan diet was also noted as well as 10% of respondents not knowing Heinz Beanz are vegan. The results were promoted through press releases, online content and social media posts.

The result of the campaign; coverage across regional, national, consumer and trade media and importantly, a huge increase in awareness of the product within the Vegan community and amongst Flexitarians (people choosing to eat less meat and adopt a more economical, healthier diet).

This campaign is proof that sometimes, keeping it simple can be just as effective as anything else. Not only did Heinz save a huge amount on not having to develop a new product, but it also kept the campaign true to its brand. No fuss, just the same great quality as we have come to always expect.

  1. Traditional fast food takes a new approach

Surprisingly this year we have seen some of the more traditional fast-food giants, such as McDonald’s and KFC, which are all often associated with just meat-based products, launching plant-based alternatives to also capitalise on Veganuary. KFC introduced the Zero-Chicken burger, whilst McDonald’s added Veggie Dippers to its range.

In addition, Subway added a Meatless Meatball Marinara sub sandwich to its expanding range of vegan meals, while Pizza Hut added the ‘Vegan Pepperphoni’, topped with pea protein and vegan cheese.

All of these fast food outlets pushed their products through social media and traditional PR and all received a great level of engagement. KFC did face a small backlash on Twitter when a rumour circulated that its no chicken burger is cooked in the same fryers as its meat products. The social media team managed to put this to bed with a series of quirky responses to any enquiries received. However, the chain did get into hot water when staff in some restaurants accidentally served chicken burgers instead of the vegan alternative. Again, with a strong crisis communications plan in place, the PR team were quick to apologise for the mistakes and promised to invest in more training for its team immediately. Again, simple but effective enough.

Finally, here’s how not to do it!

Although the aforementioned companies have managed to pull off their Veganuary campaigns successfully, there are some that unfortunately didn’t get it quite right, take Burger King for example.

At the beginning of the month Burger King proudly revealed its new soy-based Rebel Whopper, but the launch soon went downhill when it was found the burger was cooked on the same grill as its regular patties and served with egg-based mayo; meaning it isn’t vegan at all. This ended with the chain receiving a great deal of backlash from supporters of Veganuary and the Vegan Society, which we suspect has resulted in many people following the diet losing trust in Burger King and as such the company has missed out on tapping into a huge market.

Proof that if you’re going to take on a sensitive campaign like Veganuary, it’s imperative to thoroughly do your research first.

About Dragonfly PR

Dragonfly PR is South Yorkshire based public relations agency that specialises in B2B PR and has expertise in developing successful PR and social media campaigns for food manufacturers.

If you’re looking for support with launching a new product or service, increasing awareness and sales within the food manufacturing or foodservice sectors, or to discuss a bespoke PRsocial media or SEO plan for your business, call 01143 495345 or email hello@dragonflypr.co.uk.

For examples of our previous work in food manufacturing PR, visit https://dragonflypr.co.uk/casestudy-food

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