REDWOOD CITY, CA: With the clock ticking to kickoff, Impossible Foods created a video spoofing the Center for Consumer Freedom’s Super Bowl ad mocking its plant-based meat just one day before the big game.
Impossible Foods found out about the ad on Friday, when the Center for Consumer Freedom started a media push to beef industry publications about its Super Bowl LIV plans. The organization’s spot featured a girl in a spelling bee struggling with the word "methylcellulose." When she asks for a definition, the judge explains that it is a chemical laxative used in synthetic meat.
If you can't spell it, should you really be eating it? pic.twitter.com/CDCHIiQwdG— Consumer Freedom (@consumerfreedom) February 2, 2020
"They did such a lame, dopey, sad job with such an easy-to-parody script," said Impossible Foods chief communications officer Rachel Konrad. "So we thought we’d have a little bit of fun with it."
Konrad and Giselle Guerrero, VP of creative, put their heads together to figure out how to respond to the ad. The company’s top priority is getting its side of the story out in the same news cycle as a misleading piece of information, Konrad said.
"We always respond to attacks against us," she explained. "We have an all-new product and people are curious about it. People deserve total transparency, so if there is any confusion about our product, we seek immediately to clarify it."
Impossible Foods wrote, produced, directed and shot the low-budget parody video on Saturday morning at its Redwood City, California, headquarters. Employees and their families stepped in as actors, including CEO Pat Brown as its own spelling bee moderator.
"We moved around the office furniture and taped together some desks as the stage," said Konrad.
In Impossible’s version, which is almost a shot-for-shot remake of the original, the girl in the spelling bee must spell "poop," which Brown defines as a substance found "in the ground beef we make from cows."
Impossible posted the video on its social channels during the Super Bowl.
Allison+Partners is working with Impossible Foods on the campaign, letting the company know if its team sees the Center for Consumer Freedom’s ad trending or any dialogue about it on social media.
"Wherever there is a dialogue on social about the original ad, we post ours," said Konrad. "We just want people to know the facts. It isn’t relevant for us to put any paid media behind it."
Impossible hasn’t heard back from the Center for Consumer Freedom, which bills itself as "a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting personal responsibility and protecting consumer choices" on its website.
"It’s obvious our campaign is getting to them, or they wouldn’t have rushed to produce a whole counter-commercial in a couple of days," said James Bowers, creative director for the Center for Consumer Freedom. "At the end of the day, their spot is an effort to throw poop at the wall to see if it distracts consumers from its ingredient list."
Bowers added that his group’s goal is to raise awareness of the "ultra-processed nature" of synthetic meats and added that consumers should look at Impossible’s ingredient list and nutrition facts.
"They mislead consumers by implying that this is just plants and vegetables mixed up in a way to form a patty," he said. "In reality, there’s a lot more processing and additives necessary in order to make plants or other things taste like meat."
This was not Konrad’s first time defending the Impossible Foods brand. Last year, after Moms Across America staged a year-long push to take down the company, Konrad wrote in a Medium post that the group was trying "to push its anti-vaccine, anti-GMO agenda to anyone gullible enough to listen."
She noted that Impossible Foods was once again not the first to go negative.
"We were attacked here," said Konrad. "This was not us going negative as an offensive measure. This was us being defensive and getting the facts out there in light of ridiculous claims and assertions. We are a positive, optimistic company."
Impossible Foods has not heard the last of the Center for Consumer Freedom, which is planning more spots about plant-based meat, Bowers said.
"We are planning to run more ads, so [Impossible] should be prepared to do more parodies," he said. "We are doing a lot more to educate consumers on this topic."