From Queen to Morecambe and Wise, vegan chicken brand VFC’s latest marketing campaign is a celebration of British pop culture.
The brand’s owners Adam Lyons and Matthew Glover, along with its director of sales Stewart McGuckin, recreated a number of iconic images from British pop culture history, including the famous Abbey Road crossing by the Beatles and the 1966 World Cup victory.
Lyons and Glover (the latter is also known for co-founding Veganuary in 2014) have built up a strong following on Instagram thanks to their unusual marketing strategies.
They often post screenshots of negative comments the company has received from non-vegans, and regularly crown a “Cluckwit of the Month.” These screenshots were recently used in an advertising campaign on the London Underground.
VFC also recently recreated a number of American pop culture moments following its US launch last October.
VFC, which stands for “Vegan Friend Chick*n,” offers a number of plant-based, KFC-inspired products, like Chick*n Fillets and Popcorn Chick*n, all of which look and taste like the real thing.
But the brand goes further than just providing realistic plant-based meat. Activism is another key part of its business. For example, it recently did an exposé of a chicken farm that supplies KFC.
The investigation was in response to a short film released by KFC called Behind the Bucket. It featured a well-known YouTuber doing a tour of the farm and showed chickens with fresh straw, perches, and an apparently reasonable amount of space.
VFC visited the same farm, and described the video as “disingenuous” and “utterly misleading.” When its own activists visited, they found that the ground was “sodden with animal feces” and had very little straw on it.
They also reported dead chickens on the floor, a number of sick and injured animals, as well as plastic-wrapped bales and perches that were unavailable to the birds.
Glover said in a statement: “People have a right to know how filthy and crowded these farms are; how birds suffer and die right there in the sheds; and that the bins overflow with the carcasses of the poor animals who could not survive even a few weeks in such conditions.”
Chicken farming cruelty
Chickens are by far the most abused land animal on the planet, with more than 72 billion killed for food each year worldwide (for reference, humans kill around 80 billion land animals in total).
Around 95 percent of farmed chickens in the UK are factory farmed (In the US, it’s 99 percent).
Broiler chickens (those raised for meat) have been selectively bred to grow significantly faster than they naturally would, and are generally slaughtered when they are about six weeks old.
Factory-farmed chickens are often kept in cramped sheds with thousands of other birds. They will have no chance to carry out natural behaviors, and will often sustain injuries due to their unnatural growth and the conditions they’re kept in.
“We were not surprised to find that things were this bad because this is the everyday reality of intensive chicken farming,” continued Glover, regarding VFC’s investigation.
“But it leaves us with just one question: did the farm lie to KFC about its welfare standards, or is KFC lying to the rest of us?”