Pizza Hut says even the mightiest carnivore would enjoy its plant-based pie

The QSR is looking to get the lion's share of the meat substitute market with Beyond Meat.

Earlier this year, Pizza Hut teamed up with Beyond Meat. To promote the new pairing, the QSR is using an apex carnivore to convey that its plant-based offerings taste just like the real thing.

In the creative, a pitchman on a sofa with a pizza box in his lap says the taste is approved by Clarence, a lion sitting beside him.

“One of the biggest barriers to trial of plant-based options is the perceived taste,” says Amy Rozinsky, head of consumer marketing at Pizza Hut Canada. “We are trying to convey that a Pizza Hut pizza with Beyond Meat tastes just like meat. So much so, that even carnivores would approve.”

Last summer, the QSR tested the Beyond Meat pizza, flatbread and pasta, with results showing that customers were excited to try the new options, she says, which led it to bring the three toppings to market permanently in January this year. Menu items include a specialty pizza crafted with Beyond Italian Sausage Crumbles (a flatbread) and Beyond Creamy Alfredo (a savory pasta dish).

The original spot was developed by Iris in the U.K. and was adapted for the local market by Jump Branding and Design to show the Canadian Beyond Meat recipe. The campaign’s media mix was also adapted for Canada, primarily consisting of a digital and social buy to appeal to younger audiences, Rozinsky explains.

Channels include social, digital programmatic, direct mail, in-store, CRM through emails, and influencers. There’s also an accompanying PR push with help from Think Agnostic.

The campaign represents a “significant” ad spend, Rozinsky says. For the first three weeks of the campaign’s launch, Pizza Hut is spending about 85% as much on Beyond Meat on digital and social as it does its main LTO offer in market.

The timing of the launch was around often daunting New Year’s resolutions, which laddered up to a contesting component.

“We launched a contest encouraging our customers to celebrate the small wins, the ‘little flexes’ in life,” says Rozinsky. The brand gave away 1,500 free Beyond Meat pizzas to entrants who shared their #littleflex on social, commitments to changing their lifestyles to adopt healthier ones.

In 2021, parent co. Yum! Brands – which also owns restaurants Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut – partnered with Beyond Meat to announce a global strategic partnership to co-create innovative plant-based products. Rozinsky says consumers are increasingly conscious of the health and environmental implications of their daily food choices, and that the company is looking to cater to that desire.

In a release, Deanna Jurgens, chief growth officer at Beyond Meat, said with the combined strength of its brands, continues “to increase the accessibility of plant-based protein for Canadians everywhere.” Beyond Meat has previously said its expansion into QSRs represents an opportunity to transition from niche to mainstream.