This week, the above photograph of a newspaper ad for a unique brand of veggie burgers hit the Web and quickly began to go spread. “Crompton’s Beef Farm in Dorset, England, has somehow achieved the impossible,” wrote Grub Street senior editor Hugh Merwin of the “just-published newspaper ad.” “How are they allowed to advertise this?” asked College Humor. Neatorama’s Alex Santoso also took the ad at face value, reporting, “Crompton’s Beef Farm from Dorset, England, has cracked the marketing challenge of somehow selling meatful meatless veggie burger.”
Like these writers, I wanted to believe that this was a real advertisement for a real (if not really vegetarian) product. A meat company with such a whimsically absurd sense of humor would be praiseworthy indeed. Alas, a Google search turned up no results for Crompton’s Beef Farm on the appropriately named (if inappropriately spelled) Abbatoir Road in Dorset. Nor was I able to find any online purveyors of Crompton’s nut-free, 100-percent beef, preservative-free “veggie burgers.”
That’s because, as a few commenters on Imgur pointed out, the ad is fake. It’s from the most recent issue of a British humor magazine called Viz. (Click through that link and you’ll see the ad under the section heading “Letterbocks.”) According to Wikipedia, Viz specializes in “spoof adverts for various items” that “poke fun at the genuine adverts for such items in magazines found in the colour supplements of Sunday newspapers.”
Viz deserves recognition for coming up with a genuinely delightful gag. But Viz also owes a thank you to everyone who credulously passed this image around thinking it was a legitimate advertisement. It’s unlikely it would have gotten quite as many clicks and shares if the likes of Neatorama, College Humor, and Grub Street presented it for what it was: a parody.