Issue #35

Tying in with Food

Food is still cool in experiential, from donut walls to selfie pancakes.

We’ve come a long way in events from passed puff pastry and grab-and-go sandwiches. Thanks to foodie culture and wellness—and the Instagram-worthy #foodporn phenomenon—what attendees at events eat and drink is often just as important as the brand and messaging. So, marketers are taking food a step further, incorporating it into event design, playful engagements and embracing the beauty of branded food posted to social media.

Speaking of social media, a restaurant in the U.K. recently made the news by supplying patrons with food “Instagram packs” to help diners snap its menu items in the best light. The kits offered at the spot, Dirty Bones, located in the Soho section of London, contain an LED camera light, multi-device charger, wide-angle camera lens and a tripod stick for overhead table shots.

When it comes to play, you need not look further than the Museum of Ice Cream viral experience that popped up in New York City last summer, L.A. this summer and will hit San Francisco in September, to see how much consumers want to have fun with food. The museum’s signature experience is a tiled pool with a diving board filled with “sprinkles”—prime space for selfies and multisensory delights.

Consumer packaged goods brands are getting in on the playful action, from Ben & Jerry’s cereal ice cream flavors launch in Grand Central Terminal, complete with a giant bowl “pool” to leap into for sharable shots, to Pop-Tarts' pop-up cafe that presented the breakfast pastry in all new forms (from nachos to crêpes). Cheetos recently opened a “high-end” pop-up restaurant called “The Spotted Cheetah” complete with a menu inspired by the cheesy, crunchy snack food.

Food has transformed into an engagement, too, like Holiday Inn Express’ pancake selfie tour that highlighted its breakfast offerings by burning a consumer’s likeness into a delicious flapjack, and the donut wall trend. Donut walls have appeared in a PlayStation E3 booth, at Adobe MAX and it’s even a hot design trend at weddings. The idea: to take the colorful, playful shapes of donuts and simply hang them on the wall for a branding moment, self-selection and, of course, photographable moments.

Then there are cool beverage experiences, from automated, robotic cocktail-shaker machines to the “detox-retox” bar concept: instead of a coffee bar, attendees are given the choice between a Bloody Mary (if they need a little hair of the dog) and a fruit smoothie (if they’re feeling fresh).

Strategies sure to satisfy appetites, sentiments and earn a lot of brand love in the process.

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Experiential Marketing Trends

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