An ad for a plant-based burger flavored to mimic human meat won an award at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity last week – though it’s unclear who would be able to judge the vegan patty’s similarity to the real thing.
Swedish vegan food brand Oumph!’s Halloween-themed ad for its human-burger took home the festival’s Silver Brand Experience and Activation Lion on Thursday. Boasting that Oumph! “turn[s] plants into any mouth-watering meat you can imagine,” the ad, replete with bloody knives and other horror-movie imagery, revealed the brand was about to “bring you the scariest plant-based food ever – plant based human meat.”
A spokesperson for the company, which manufactured the delicacy from soy, mushrooms, wheat protein, plant-based fats and a “mysterious spice mix,” insisted “no humans were injured in the development of this product.”
The burger was only available in Sweden for Halloween 2021, according to the ad – “because otherwise it would be creepy” – and it’s unclear whether the Cannes judges had the opportunity to sample the merchandise, let alone compare it to the real thing.
Created by ad agency LOLA MullenLowe, Madrid, the video spot beat out 1,918 other entries to win in its category. In a press release following their win, the company’s Executive Creative Director Tomas Ostiglia explained that “the plant-based category is at its peak,” meaning Oumph! “had to convince meat-lovers, vegetarian or not, that their plant-based products can in fact replicate the taste of any meat. A claim most are tired of hearing and even more tired of being disappointed by.”
And, of course, a solution was to make a tasty plant-based human meat burger.
The brand invited those who accepted their challenge to “dare to taste it” to seek out Oumph!’s food truck at Nytorget in Stockholm over the Halloween weekend.
While Oumph!’s co-founder and corporate chef Anders Linden insisted that the burger was developed “in no time as soon as we knew what taste and texture we were after,” he remained close-lipped about how exactly they arrived at that particular taste and texture, while insisting he himself has never tasted real human meat. The brand’s account responded to one Instagram user’s question about how they settled on the flavor by claiming, “We have spent countless hours researching.”
Reports from those who have actually eaten humans vary, with “both serial killers and Polynesian cannibals” describing it as similar to pork, according to Smithsonian Magazine. This would appear to conform to the term “long pig,” an English translation of a phrase from the Polynesian islands used to describe human flesh destined for human consumption.
However, Mao Sugiyama, a Japanese man who cooked and served his own genitalia to paying customers in 2012, apparently failed to capture the porcine magic, as guests reported the meal was “very rubbery and tasted of very little,” according to the website CalorieLab.com. It remains unclear if Oumph! hewed more closely to the Polynesian recipe.