Hellmann’s dresses up its plant-based offerings at an award show

Airing on TikTok, "The Vegans" is an Oscars spoof that aims to drive home the taste and quality factors that are key to trial for flexitarians.

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With “The Vegans,” Hellmann’s is celebrating a growing segment of its business with its own cheeky take on the Oscars.

The trophies coincide with the launch of three new vegan salad dressings: Green Goddess, Classic Caesar and Classic Ranch. and the “Vegans” campaign is coming to life primarily through TikTok and in-store.

Kristen Denega, lead for Hellmann’s in Canada and North American innovations at Unilever, tells strategy that while the company has seen an increase in “flexitarians” gravitating towards plant-based options for a variety of reasons, including personal health and environmental impact, vegan food has not traditionally been celebrated as the top tier for taste.

But research shows that for Canadians who are opting to integrate more plant-based recipes into their diets, taste and culinary experience are deciding factors.

“‘The Vegans’ is our fun way of celebrating the tastiness of vegan cuisine and inspiring foodies to get creative at home,” Denega says. The brand is going after millennial flexitarians, who might feel like vegan cooking is inaccessible, either not knowing how to cook vegan or simply not being able to find or afford vegan options.

The award show will be “airing” on TikTok on Sept. 26, with food influencers sharing recipes nominated in categories like Best Appetizer in a Supporting Role, Best Leading Main Dish and Best Original Lunch Item in the weeks leading up to.

Denega says TikTok provides a unique opportunity to leverage food influencers, incentivize culinary creativity and generate a groundswell of engagement and user generate content tied back to the focus of vegan cooking. By working with its foodie nominees, Hellmann’s is able to reach its target audience directly in a fun, unexpected way.

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The vegan products are also highlighted in its “Meals that Matter” Unilever foods program.

“We provide consumers with seasonal and themed recipe inspiration, most notably during BBQ season – or what we are now calling VBQ season,” Denega says.

The three SKUs are also being supporting with at-shelf communications and coupons at select retailers across the country, amplifying the “great taste” messaging. Consumers can visit the brand’s website and enter to receive a site-wide, 20% off coupon, redeemable on Unilever’s U-Shop ecommerce website.

The latest launch follows Hellmann’s Vegan Dressing and Spread, which according to Denega, was a successful proof of concept that Canadians are willing to try a plant-based alternative if it has the same qualities as a non-vegan item. Unilever’s vegan line is a smaller proportion of the business overall, but growing rapidly as more consumers adopt plant-based or vegan diets.

Unilever has previously said its global ambition is to achieve €1 billion annual sales from plant-based products by 2027, and Canada is a key part of meeting this target.

Edelman is the lead agency on this campaign. Unilever also partnered with its in-house creative house department, U-Studio, with PHD handling paid media.