Did a Vegan Ad Just Air on Australian TV for the First Time?

Yesterday was, for the most part, an ordinary Sunday.

I awoke slightly later than my weekday alarm would normally have me do.
I whipped up a killer brunch for myself and a mate.
I visited my local pool to swim some laps and lie in the sun.

That’s where the normal stopped. When I first realised that something game-changing had occurred.

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 viewing of 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 more than I could have imagined.

Sandwiched between a Bunnings advertisement promising to beat any price, and a Telstra ad telling me how magical iPhones are (which I have my own opinions about), was a Hungry Jack’s ad (view ad here). 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 …”

For an 11-year vegan, you can imagine how exciting this was for me. I’ve personally gone through every phase of vegan public perception under the sun. First, it was the outright, “You’re fucking stupid”. After that, it was the, “But, where are you getting your protein from?”. Then it was the constant onslaught of tags in ‘hilarious’ anti-vegan memes and viral videos. Veganism is something that I am incredibly passionate about, but have been taught to keep relatively private — if I didn’t want to get hurled abuse from every direction, or if I wanted to be introduced to people at a dinner party with the forced title of, “Don’t worry, he’s a good vegan.” So, to see a vegan product being advertised positively on prime-time TV. Well, it was a pivotal moment.

This isn’t about me, though. It’s about something much bigger.

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, is the very core nature of being vegan. By virtue of electing to change (i.e. moving from an omnivorous diet to a herbivorous one), the individual is essentially saying that their original position was wrong. This is where the crux of the difficulty is.

So, it seems as though HJ’s has decided to completely avoid this 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)!

It looks delicious and the burger does all the talking. But I’m not really here to talk about the ad itself, I’m here to talk about what this means for the vegan community in Australia.

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 of Australia is gone. Or maybe we’re in a time where we can all speak to each other without the disdain for fear of change.

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 buying the future of vegan products advertised on TV in Australia.