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Jerky vegans get their comeuppance


JR Sears, an emotional healing coach, records an emotional plea for beef jerky.

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, and apparently in a parallel universe they don’t let them be vegans either.

“Do you have any friends that exhibit any of the following traits: low energy, tangled hair or self-righteousness; do they drive a 40-year-old VW bus; or have an obsession with farmers markets; do they annoy you? If so… they may be vegans,” a sincere-looking man, whose long, straight red hair is encircled by a tulle headband with a fake flower attached, asks his Facebook audience.  

It didn’t take being tackled while carrying a shopping bag full of kale for Paul Lyons, the president and cofounder of The Beef Jerky Outlet, to see the lights, camera, action.
“I thought it was hilarious,” he says about JR Sears’ lampooning of vegans on YouTube. “He has a huge following” (1.69 million likes on Facebook).

Lyons contacted Sears about creating similar spots featuring beef jerky as the carnivore’s answer to vegans’ holier-than-cow attitude. Sears’ shtick for his own Facebook page addresses the burning question: What if meat-eaters acted like vegans? and shows him lecturing vegans while clutching a fistful of raw steak.   

Ironically, Sears is a 35-year old emotional healing coach who “executes yoga” (he doesn’t have a yoga practice, he told an editor of Yoga Journal, since he already knows how to do it). He saw comedy as a way of making a point with an enlightened audience that sometimes needs to lighten up.

Sears’ first video for The Beef Jerky Outlet garnered a quarter of a million views in just two days, Lyons says. Sears will make at least three more videos that show beef jerky as an intervention measure for vegans. The first video attracted 500 comments from viewers. “This is what marketing should be,” Lyons enthusiastically points out.

Best practices dictate that posts from brands can’t be promotional or they turn fans off. That’s why Sears is such a gold mine. Talking about beef jerky is seen as part of the humor, not as self-serving.

The franchise is using the videos to grow its online presence to both boost awareness of the brand and to help drive traffic to the chain’s 100 stores. It’s too early to see what the impact will be in the stores, which sell 100 different varieties of jerky, Lyons says. “That’s the rub,” he adds. “This is our first major effort on social media.”

What did he have to pay for that major effort? He wouldn’t give an exact figure, but did say, “Whenever I mentioned how much I paid him, (people) will say ‘that’s all?’”

We’re for creatives being well paid, so we hope Sears replaced that fistful of raw beef for a fistful of dollars.

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