Steak-umm's 'Deepsteaks' Project Skewers Deepfakes

Showing how everyday people become targets

Steak-umm's "Deepsteaks" are deceptive—and that's the point, as the frozen beef brand continues its journey as a watchdog to educate the masses.

It's a path that began during the height of the global pandemic, with a thread on Twitter warning people to question news sources about misinformation.

This time around, Steak-umm tackles the growing threat of deepfakes. The goal is to demonstrate that anyone call fall prey to tech-generated hoaxes.

Tombras created the campaign, forming a focus group with 18 vegans. As the camera rolls, each person discusses their dietary choices. Then, they sample vegan Steak-umm sandwiches.

Later, however, the resulting videos appear to show each group member espousing their love of meat.

"I'm telling you, that’s not me," one participant protests. "It does feel a bit like gaslighting," says another.

"We intentionally chose vegans because they’re the last people who would ever buy a box of Steak-umm (so there's really no harm from a brand perspective)," says Morgan Crego McLees, VP and social media creative director at Tombras. "But more importantly from a human behavior standpoint, real deepfake scammers bait their victims with something deeply personal. And being a vegan is core to their identity. So, we recreated a bit of what happens in the real world, to evoke emotions."

Developed with Hollywood director Jason Woliner, the project encourages folks to sign a petition supporting the DEEP FAKES Accountability Act through a dedicated site:

Steak-umm takes such hot-button tacks because of its "100 percent real beef" positioning. 

"We call out anything that's fake but isn't getting the attention needed to keep consumers aware of potential risks," says Patrick Tice, creative director at Tombras.

"We started to see small stories about real people getting deepfaked, and were surprised that the national news media were missing the bigger story," adds McLees.

Last year, the agency launched a "Meataversity" ahead of the midterm elections. It was dedicated to teaching users how to spot lies and half-truths online.

"Misinformation and disinformation are part of our world now, so the opportunity to be that voice of reason becomes critical as people yearn for things they can trust," says Tice. "While we don't take that responsibility lightly, we always try to make literacy fun."

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