Dozens of brands have introduced plant-based alternatives to their meat products—from Burger King’s Impossible Whopper to KFC’s launch of “Beyond Fried Chicken.” Now, the convenience store chain Sheetz is entering the fray. Kind of.
Last Thursday, Sheetz debuted its “‘Kinda Vegan’ Burger Sandwich” in a short video on the brand’s Twitter. Almost all of the ingredients contained in the sandwich—like lettuce, tomato and onion—are vegan, the video boasts. There’s just one small problem: the “vegan” sandwich is actually a normal hamburger, complete with a beef patty.
“Finally, you can do your part and eat more plants without sacrificing the few things in life that make you happy, so people will get off your back,” says the V.O.—which happened to be provided by Jaime Robinson, the co-founder and chief creative officer at Joan Creative, Sheetz’s creative agency of record.
The “‘Kinda Vegan’ Burger Sandwich” is the latest creative campaign Joan has produced for Sheetz. Joan’s idea to launch a new “vegan” offering for Sheetz was inspired by the public outcry that arose last month when restaurant chain Cracker Barrel announced it would begin giving diners the option to choose a plant-based sausage instead of meat. Cracker Barrel’s Aug. 1 Facebook post received unanticipated backlash from some users, with several complaining about the restaurant adding “fake meat” to its menu.
The Sheetz video plays off of this online controversy and satirizes the concept of a brand introducing a meatless alternative, instead flaunting an ordinary hamburger alongside cinematic shots of the sandwich’s vegan ingredients (like pickles and lettuce) being tossed into the air. With all of the vegetables served on the hamburger, eating one surely makes customers “vegan enough” to avoid judgment from others, Robinson’s voiceover promises.
“The amount of hysteria around meatless/vegan products is getting kind of nuts, from both sides of the conversation,” Robinson said in an email to Ad Age. “You have vegans cementing their feet in front of Starbucks to protest oat milk prices. You have people slinging insults at Cracker Barrel for adding vegan sausage. Let people eat what they want to eat!”
Although the “‘Kinda Vegan’ Burger Sandwich” isn’t an actual product, customers at Sheetz stores can play along with the joke and order one of the “vegan” sandwiches to receive one of the store’s existing beef-based hamburgers. But, Robinson says, these customers can still “tell their friends they are ‘kinda vegan’ — we’re good with that.”
The social ad follows a series of video spots Joan created in March that introduced a new tagline for the brand: “Why the Sheetz Not?” Those, along with their new “vegan” product, infuse a sense of “mischievous humor” into the family-owned convenience store brand, according to the brand’s release.