• Screenshot from the controversial ad, which debuted on Saturday night.

    A controversial vegan advertisement debuted on UK television channels over the weekend.

    Tom Bursnall, director of plant-based food company Miami Burger and producer of the advert, expects it will spark conversation and backlash.

    Bursnall created the 30-second ad in collaboration with the charity Vegan Friendly.

    Make The Connection 2022 (30 seconds)

    Make The Connection 2022 - NEW TV Advert From Vegan Friendly

    Making the connection

    The ad encourages viewers to “Make the Connection” between the food they eat and the animals it is sourced from.

    It centers on a group of people as they lament topical animal welfare issues such as plastic in the ocean, bullfighting, and wet markets, all while tucking into a hearty, meaty meal.

    “Plastic straws are ruining the oceans. The poor fish don’t stand a chance!” one woman says, before taking a bite of fish from the plate before her.

    As she does, the commercial switches to images of fish moving down a processing line and being graphically butchered. It then switches back to a close-up of the woman’s mouth tearing fish off her fork with her teeth.

    “They just don’t care about animals like we do, babe,” her husband responds, taking a bite of pork. The camera switches to a piglet kept in dire conditions, meat being butchered, and blood splashing onto a takeaway container.

    Cognitive dissonance

    Speaking to Plant Based News (PBN), Bursnall elaborated on the concept:

    “Utilizing uncomfortably close-up camera shots and interwoven clips of animals being slaughtered for consumption, the cognitive dissonance reaches a crescendo as one character opines: ‘can’t we treat all living things the same, please?’”

    The advert ends with the three people looking down at their food in disgust as they begin to make the connection.

    Then there is a link to maketheconnection.io, a page hosted by Vegan Friendly that gives meat substitute recommendations, along with health and animal welfare information.

    Produced by creative agency Hotwolf, the commercial will feature across high-profile UK channels such as Channel 4, Sky Max, and Sky Cinema over the next few weeks.

    This is in order “to highlight the hypocrisy of self-proclaimed animal lovers who still eat meat,” Bursnall said.

    Vegan Friendly partnership

    The ad comes just over a year after Vegan Friendly’s last commercial aired on the UK’s Sky and Channel 4.

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    The ad caused outrage and attracted more than 200 complaints.

    “I envisage this one generating more,” Bursnall told PBN, referring to the latest project.

    The ad was originally aired in Israel. There, it reached three million people, approximately 35 percent of Israel’s population. An edited version hit UK TV screens after Bursnall launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for a primetime slot.

    “I want everyone who watches TV, Video on Demand, and YouTube to see this advert,” Bursnall said last year. “The aim is to help awaken millions of people from the cognitive dissonance slumber we humans have regretfully found ourselves in.”

    “I will stop at nothing to get these stirring videos in front of millions of people,” he added.

    The new “Make the Connection” advert comes a month after another vegan charity, Viva!, launched its “Takeaway the Meat” campaign.

    The ad – which sees a piglet delivered to a couple who ordered pulled pork from the mock food delivery app, “Just Meat” – debuted on Channel 4 on Valentine’s Day, reaching an estimated 16 million viewers.

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