- Hummus maker Sabra Dipping Company set up an emergency toll-free hotline, 1-866-Code-Vegan, to help barbecue hosts better cater to their vegan guests this summer, according to details shared with Marketing Dive. "The Vegans are Coming" campaign was inspired by internal research showing roughly half of surveyed U.S. adults are unsure how to best cater to vegan visitors.
- Active through the Fourth of July holiday, the hotline provides free "Rescue Kits" featuring vegan-friendly flatbread recipes, coupons and themed laptop stickers. A team of celebrities, including celebrity chef Anne Burrell, NFL player Richard Sherman and actress and activist Laverne Cox, will also share messages through the hotline and on social media. The push has a digital extension at CodeVegan.com.
- As part of the promotion, Sabra released an intentionally "cheesy" digital spot in the style of '90s infomercials that was developed with agency VaynerMedia. The brand additionally worked on a product integration with "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" This is the first campaign under Sabra's new CMO Jason Levine, who previously worked at Mondelez.
Sabra, which is jointly-owned by PepsiCo and the Israel-based food manufacturer Strauss Group, is finding a way to bring its brand into a seasonal occasion that often lacks vegan options. The campaign targeted at July Fourth barbecue planners plays up ironic retro flare, tapping into the somewhat dated conceit of a 1-800 hotline and also a kitschy video that recalls the heyday of daytime infomercials.
Leaning into nostalgia for bygone eras — specifically the '80s and '90s — has continued to be in vogue as brands try to connect with consumers that grew up during those decades, namely millennials. Food and beverage marketers have shown a strong favor toward the hotline concept, in particular: For Mother's Day this year, Tropicana created a brunch support hotline offering tips around topics like how to properly mix a mimosa. Last fall, Oscar Mayer made the controversial declaration that hot dogs are sandwiches, opening up an eight-hundred number to receive feedback.
Sabra's campaign, beyond leveraging similarly tongue-in-cheek humor, could capture the attention of a growing base of consumers amenable to vegan-friendly foods. The trend has been embodied in the uptick in companies creating plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products. However, the number of U.S. adults who identify as vegan actually remains quite small at just 3% as of 2018, according to Gallup polls.
Still, brands like Sabra have appeared to benefit from the demand for vegan or plant-based eating options. In 2016, PepsiCo's then-CEO Indra Nooyi said Sabra, which also produces dips like guacamole and baba ganoush, was "well on its way" to being the food and beverage giant's next billion-dollar brand, as reported in Food Navigator. Sabra was early in introducing Americans to hummus, a dip category that now sees around $725 million in grocery store sales annually, according to our sister site Food Dive.