Did a vegan ad just air on Australian TV for the first time?

Hungry Jack's has just made a big gamble with its latest TV ad, and Hedgehog Agency managing director Josh Berg is hoping it pays off.

Last Sunday, I flicked on the telly to tune into my favourite show  –  RBT. As the police ticker chime came on I knew that one of two things was about to happen. I was either going to bear witness to yet another exciting scene featuring someone blowing over, or I was closing in on an advertising break. Normally I’d opt for the former, but on this occasion, I enjoyed the latter.

Sandwiched between a Bunnings advertisement promising to beat any price, and a Telstra ad telling me how magical iPhones are, was a Hungry Jack’s ad. But this time it wasn’t just telling me that the burgers are better. There was one particular word which piqued my interest. ‘Vegan’.

I had just borne witness to what I believed to be the first ever vegan-focused advertisement aired in Australian TV history.

Note: please correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve scoured the web and called all my go-to vegan and advertising friends to see if there’s been anything before. They’ve all said the same thing: “Not that I know of …”

It’s a breath of fresh air to see a company as big as Hungry Jack’s advertising their new vegan product on one of the most expensive advertising channels in Australia. And it’s particularly refreshing considering that the last time something vegan was mentioned on TV was the famous/notorious (depending on how you look at it), Australia Day 2016 Lamb Ad (head to 1:08). But we won’t talk about that now…

The hardest part about vegan advertising, and why I believe that it hasn’t really been done before, lies at the very core of being vegan. By virtue of electing to change (i.e. moving from an omnivorous diet to a herbivorous one), the individual is saying that their original position was wrong.

Which is where the crux of the problem lies for advertisers.

So, it seems as though HJ’s has found a way to completely avoid this tension on the big screen. They’ve gone for their classic style of hero-ing the delicious, better burgers, that they’ve been harping on about for all these years. Just this time, the burger happens to be vegan (and have two bloody patties)!

As with many things, the money does the talking. If there are sales and profit, then the investment will follow. Hungry Jack’s has just taken a large investment, with an associated risk, by delivering this ad to a generic audience of TV viewers, many of whom would not be vegan.

Maybe we’re in a time and place where the culture is shifting and the anger between the omnivorous and herbivorous parties (and patties) of Australia is gone.

Or maybe, just maybe, Hungry Jack’s has taken a gamble on being the industry leader for overtly advertising something that we know a large and significantly growing percentage of Australians are after.

If it’s successful and profitable, then the money will talk and the ads will keep rolling. And if the ads keep on rolling, then there will be more to come and play.

So if you’re a vegan, I implore you to go to Hungry Jack’s and pick up one of these bad boys. You won’t just be buying a bloody delicious burger, you’ll be changing the future of Australian TV ads.

Josh Berg is the managing director at Hedgehog Agency, an advertising/marketing agency which services clients it believes in. Before founding Hedgehog Agency, he worked at Google and The Urban List. 


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