With A&W being one of the first Canadian chains to jump on the Beyond Meat bandwagon, they have been Canadians go-to for the plant-based substitute to beef burgers. While fans have been raving about their products so far, it seems as if their latest advertisement campaign has faced some backlash. A&W's Beyond Meat commercial actually ended up landing the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the hot seat.
In A&W's newest ad campaign, the company heads over to the Mosaic Stadium, getting Roughrider fans to test out the Beyond Meat Burger for themselves. While the ad is short and simple, having fans talk about how delicious the burger is, it seems that not everyone was happy to see the Saskatchewan team as part of a Beyond Meat campaign.
According to CTV News, the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association reached out to the football team, after multiple ranchers in the area felt that the Beyond Meat commercial had the football team showing a lack of support for their local business and industry.
However, it's not necessarily the fact that these burgers are plant-based, local farmers are more upset that they are not Canadian based. One local cattle producer, Adrienne Ivey even went as far as to tell CTV that, "This is very much not an issue about beef protein versus plant-based protein... let's just make sure that maybe they're made by and from farmers here in Canada."
However, it's not just local ranchers that were upset about the collaborative commercial, in fact, many Canadians also took to Twitter to show their distaste for the latest campaign.
One Twitter user even stated that "A&W stooped to a new low" with their latest commercial.
A&W stooped to a new low. They have now made a beyond meat ad with people wearing Sask Roughriders jerseys. Obvious… https://t.co/wq6YBIybNY— Kevin Blair (@Kevin Blair)1568207945.0
Just saw an A&W commercial for the beyond meat burger using Saskatchewan Roughriders fans.... I thought you where b… https://t.co/p0ah82hR5j— Truckin Eh 🚛💨 (@Truckin Eh 🚛💨)1568056284.0
@adrienneivey Completely agree.I was stunned by this ad being filmed so blatantly @sskroughriders stadium. Not fans… https://t.co/SY7vjNnczY— Joan Craig (@Joan Craig)1568657385.0
@adrienneivey Great post. As a beef producer I have no obligation to people being given the opportunity to have pla… https://t.co/f6XJJZFita— Trevor Carlson ©️ (@Trevor Carlson ©️)1568647981.0
Since the backlash that both A&W and the Saskatchewan Roughriders have been facing about the ad, the Roughriders have released an apology to the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association.
In their statement, the Roughriders announce, "While the commercial does show Roughrider fans tasting the product and giving their opinions, we want to assure your members, and all of Rider Nation, that the advertisement does not represent any reduction of support by the Saskatchewan Roughrider Football Club to specific beef or agricultural industries in our great province of Saskatchewan."
A&W told Narcity that they will soon be switching out the advertisement with a new campaign that features a 100% Prairie-Raised Bison burger.
They also told Narcity, "We are reaching out to the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association to address their concerns. It is important that they know we are advocates of Saskatchewan beef and our beef burgers firmly remain the most popular choice on our menu in the province. As a Canadian company born in the prairies, we appreciate how important agriculture is to Saskatchewan communities. Our commercial that celebrated Rider Nation and featured fans enjoying a Beyond Meat Burger runs for a few days more before we switch to a new campaign that features a new menu item for Saskatchewan: a 100% Prairie-Raised Bison burger.
A&W buys millions of pounds of Canadian beef every year and Saskatchewan is one of our largest sources of high-quality Canadian beef, a supply we constantly look to increase. We are proud of our ties to the Saskatchewan ranchers and farmers who also supply us with chicken, wheat, mustard and canola.
We have 46 restaurants in Saskatchewan, with the 47th opening in Saskatoon this year and the 48th to open next year in Regina. Many of our franchisees grew up on local farms and several are still farmers themselves. Our restaurants are staffed with 1,500 great Saskatchewan residents, and we have a long-standing commitment to giving back to Saskatchewan, including raising over a million dollars for MS in the province and a $5 million commitment to the Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence at the University of Saskatchewan."*
*Editor's note: This article has been updated to include a comment from A&W.