The plant-based food category has exploded with new competitors like Impossible and Beyond Meat. But despite this enthusiasm for the category — original innovator MorningStar Farms was getting lost in the crowd. The challenge for the brand was to regain its share of voice and raise its profile among consumers, making MorningStar Farms a key player in the plant-based conversation.
To do this, we needed to disrupt the category by helping consumers overcome a pre-conceived notion that veggie burgers and plant-based proteins taste bad, and to convince people that MorningStar Farms isn’t just for vegans and vegetarians, but is, in fact, for everyone.
To raise awareness for the brand, we looked to data for help. We found that when you enter the plant-based category with MorningStar Farms, the likelihood of returning is greater than with any other brand, which made us realize the importance of something – your first time. Now that’s something everyone can relate to, as it’s a conversation EVERYONE has had - in movies, in song, and in life. It also inspired our new campaign: Lose Your Veginity with MorningStar Farms.
As we all know, your first time requires the perfect partner. And we nailed one: Colton Underwood – the celebrity virgin and former contestant from the Bachelor, a hugely popular American reality dating show. Taking advantage of Colton’s cultural popularity and his more than 2 million social followers across Instagram and Facebook, we created playful videos rife with innuendo about his first time, turning Colton’s “has he?” or “hasn’t he?” into a social media sensation, and the Internet ate it up.
Not only was Colton integral to inspiring veggie virgins to get over their initial negative taste assumptions, he added a relatable humanity to the campaign that was authentic to our storyline to get people talking. Throughout the campaign, we used Colton’s “first time” misdirect to highlight the variety of MorningStar Farms products, from breakfast sausage to burgers, while also promoting the different usage occasions to show the products’ versatility and ease-of-use.
But we didn’t stop there. Our content also introduced a contest for fans to win a chance to lose their veginity with Colton Underwood and MorningStar Farms at an exclusive event in NYC, where they were able to trade in their v-card for their first taste of plant-based protein. And for those who couldn’t make it, we offered them a chance to win a “very special package” from Colton to lose their veginity at home, containing both campaign swag and MorningStar Farms product for trial.
Within a week, it was clear that Colton Underwood’s popularity and extensive following were paying dividends. The first video post garnered over a million organic views and nearly 8,000 comments from fans, celebrities, professional sports players, and even PETA – all wanting to get in on the steamy MorningStar Farms action. Furthermore, friends were tagged in the comments, spreading the Veginity love to new audiences.
By the end of the campaign, Lose Your Veginity netted close to 1.6 million organic views, over 7 million total views, and over 20,000 comments, injecting MorningStar Farms into crowded plant-based conversation in a fresh new way. And within the first two weeks of the campaign, we saw MorningStar Farms sales climb by nearly 12% year-over-year.
Additionally, with Colton Underwood as a big media draw, the live event in NYC was a wild success. In front of a a packed house of contest winners, fans, and media. Colton expressed his love for the brand and announced he had embraced and committed to a plant-based diet, furthering his partnership with MorningStar Farms. The event coverage contributed to over 400 million earned impressions, with placements in top-tier publications like US Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Fox News, AOL and People Magazine.
The Lose Your Veginity campaign not only helped raise awareness for MorningStar Farms, it helped the brand regain some of its leadership in the burgeoning plant-based category, all while giving the world a second chance at their first time.