Why Is This Vegan Bacon Advert So Annoying?

Can I offer you some rehydrated soya proteins in this trying time?

by Simon Childs

9 November 2022

La Vie's advert. Gary McQuiggin
La Vie’s advert. Gary McQuiggin

In times of hardship, we can always turn to brands for help.

From GiffGaff advertising prices that won’t go up unlike “pretty much everything” else to dating apps offering the hope of finding someone you can split your electricity bill with, advertisers are cashing in on the zeitgeist of financial stress.

Food company La Vie has gone one step further, however, realising that the smart money is in the long arch of civilizational collapse rather than the chump change of short-term cost of living panic.

Its pitch is: “Sure, our parents got the property boom, but we’ve got vegan bacon that tastes like bacon.”

So you can’t afford a house, but try these rehydrated soya proteins, you lucky thing. This is a joke that almost anyone other than a vegan bacon company could legitimately make. I, like many others, welcome the arrival of plant-based meat substitutes, but this is like telling World War Two conscripts: “At least you have Spam.”

Boomers got relative housing security and valuable assets, and they also got to eat bacon without worrying about ecological collapse. Millennials may be the first generation to have a worse quality of life than our parents, but at least advertisers can still monetise our fear of an even worse future.

There’s a winking sense of knowing here that makes things even more annoying. Not only are they selling a consumerist, apolitical response to the climate crisis, they’re doing so with a kind of world-weary sarcasm that suggests someone who is jaded by false hopes, non-solutions and meat substitutes that never taste quite as good as the real thing. “Sure, our parents got the property boom, but we’ve got vegan bacon that tastes like bacon,” sounds like a send-up of the idea that a few lifestyle choices here and there could really change anything, but here it is, selling that very product.

The overtones of confected generational culture war in La Vie’s advert are surely no accident, either. Millennials spending their savings on vegan bacon sounds like something Suella Braverman would blame the housing crisis on, and sure enough, launching the product, La Vie CMO Romain Jolivet told press that the product is designed to “resolve the tension” between vegans and meat lovers who are “paradoxically more divided than ever.”

This is, of course, total bollocks. Very few people besides woke-bashing politicians and perhaps some high-end chefs actually care that some people don’t eat meat, and most people think it’s a good idea.

Perhaps we should be thanking La Vie. By producing something entirely too on the nose, they’ve shown green consumerism for the utterly uninspiring vision it presents: not only totally inadequate for stopping climate change, but a modified version of the same crap we’ve been eating for years.

Simon Childs is a commissioning editor and reporter for Novara Media.

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