Follow Your Heart, the manufacturer of Vegenaise, the delicious vegan mayonnaise spread, has an interesting new product of sorts. The company has partnered up with Lil B, a rapper and author from Berkeley, California, on a free vegan emoji app.
Lil B is Brandon McCartney (no relation to Sir Paul, who is also vegan), a 25-year-old artist who is reportedly well-known for his use of social media in building his following. So the emojis are a natural progression for Lil B, who also goes by the names The Based God and Lil Boss. He’s even reportedly learning to code so that he can, presumably, create his own emoji apps in the future.
(If you don’t know who Lil B is, you’re not alone. I had to Google him for this article. Seems I was so busy eating vegan mayo for the last 25 years that I totally missed him. He's an impressive young person who also works the motivational speaker circuit, having recently given an interesting talk at MIT.)
"This is Lil B's first brand partnership, and Follow Your Heart's first foray into the world of technology and music, and it couldn't be a better fit," Follow Your Heart’s director of accounting Matt Dunaj told FADER. "Follow Your Heart has built a grassroots following over the last 40 years as the highest-quality manufacturer of vegan foods such as Vegenaise (the best sandwich spread in the world), the same way that Lil B built his following and became the most well-known independent artist of our time. Lil B stands for love, positivity, and being true to yourself, and he also stands behind our principles of quality, compassion, and sustainability. We're so excited to be spreading positivity with Lil B! Follow Your Heart and keep it (plant) based!"
As someone who is slightly emoji allergic (while I can’t find any medical data to support this, I’m quite sure it’s a real and potentially life-threatening condition), I’m not sure the emoji would make me more prone to purchase any more Vegenaise (or Lil B music) than my current monthly truckload. But I still like this concept and think it’s going to be quite successful for both parties for a few reasons.
For one, Lil B is yet another celeb “coming out of the refrigerator” as a vegan, and that’s never a bad thing. Beyoncé recently launched a vegan food delivery service; Alicia Silverstone has a devout following, and there are many other celebrity vegans, like Sir Paul McCartney, a longtime supporter of PETA. These celebs do influence their fans, and Lil B has something else going for him on this: his age.
Many Millennials are already invested in choosing healthier foods. (Fast food joint Carl’s Jr. recently launched its ‘natural’ grass-fed burger particularly to target this market.) And vegan options are becoming more desirable. So while the partnership between Follow Your Heart and Lil B may seem a little random, I’m guessing it’s actually pretty deliberate.
Newcomer to the vegan mayo scene is Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo. While its target has been taking up space in the traditional mayo category, which landed it with a lawsuit filed by Hellmann’s parent company Unilever, it’s inadvertently taking market share away from Vegenaise, which has also had a longtime cult-like following. So, with Hampton Creek continuing to grow and play aggressively in the ‘Mayo Wars’, Follow Your Heart has responded brilliantly. Rather than targeting its competition, it’s focusing on building brand recognition among young health-seekers, some of whom have likely not yet encountered Vegenaise or any vegan mayo, for that matter.
It’s certainly a step in the right direction towards a healthier America and a greener planet. And wouldn't you know it, Lil B and Follow Your Heart’s emoji sums it up perfectly: Rad.
You can download the app on iTunes.
Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
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Images from the app