The Economist custom branded food truck
February 25th, 2024 | 5 min read
  • Activations
  • Food Truck Tours

8 Fresh Culinary Ideas for Pop-Ups & Brand Buzz

Free food is one of the best ways to draw a crowd — so lots of brands incorporate culinary creativity into pop-up shops and brand activations. There are numerous ways to go about offering free food and beverages at your brand’s marketing events, even if your brand isn’t about food or drink. Here are eight creative culinary ideas from recent Promobile events for inspiration.

1. Run a Blind Taste Test

Meati makes a fantastic, mushroom-based meat alternative — and they wanted to put it in front of potential customers to give them a taste and get their feedback. The solution? A brand activation featuring blind taste tests with hundreds of consumers — think of it as a modern, mobile version of the classic focus group. Participants taste-tested Meati alongside competitor products and real chicken, then answered questions about the experience. Meati collected tons of honest, useful feedback — some of which shaped future product decisions. The brand also scored an advertising win when the mushroom-based meat alternative beat out even real chicken.

Meati blind taste test campaign

2. Launch a New Product via a Food Truck Tour

Condiment brand Sir Kensington’s ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, and mayonnaise already had many ardent fans. But many Sir Kensington’s lovers don’t eat eggs, the core ingredient in mayonnaise — so the brand developed a vegan version, “Fabanaise.” To promote the new product, Sir Kensington’s partnered with Promobile for an ambitious 83-stop tour of the American East Coast. The campaign scored more than 26.3 million social media impressions and gave away 120,000 samples to land a 105% increase in sales for Fabanaise.

sir kensingtons brand activation

3. Take an Activist Approach

The venerable Economist newsmagazine wanted to capitalize on a 180-year-old reputation for journalistic excellence and demonstrate a commitment to modern concerns. The goal: to attract a new generation of readers. The solution: create a brand activation that educates participants on food waste and meat alternatives. Working with Promobile, The Economist partnered with like-minded brands to develop activations around mobile kitchens, manned six days per week by street teams. The Economist’s award-winning brand activation gained more than 130,000 new subscribers and generated $1.7 million in revenue.

The economist marketing campaign

4. Team Up with a Celeb to Support Indie Businesses

When beverage brand Tazo wanted to promote its Cafe Collective — a network supporting local, independent cafés — they teamed up with Issa Rae, a producer, actor and entrepreneur, to launch an LA sampling pop-up. Designed to invite other shop owners to join the Tazo Cafe Collective, the event surprised patrons with a new, curated drink, the Tazo Passion Twist. A hundred swag bags and 1,000 Passion Twist recipe cards rounded out the offerings, which served more than 300 community members.

tazo tea party

5. Do Some Large-Scale Sampling

Miyoko’s Creamery — a plant-based dairy brand — wanted to introduce its great-tasting products to consumers on a grand scale. A goal that ambitious called for an equally ambitious plan — and working with Promobile, that’s what Miyoko’s created. Over the course of three months, Miyoko’s carried out a food truck tour of 23 U.S. cities. The mobile activation gave away nearly 50,000 samples of the brand’s non-dairy butter and cheeses — prepared in dishes ranging from street corn to pizza — at food festivals, fashion events, and retail establishments. The activations gathered more than a million impressions on social media and generated massive buzz for the brand.

Miyokos mobile tour

6. Support Local Businesses & Underrepresented Communities

In 2020, PepsiCo made a multi-million dollar commitment to support underrepresented communities. Called Pepsi Dig In, the project was created to support Black-owned restaurants and the communities behind them. One focus of the initiative: Dig In Day, an effort to drive customers to Black-owned restaurants. Since some of the best Black-owned restaurants are out-of-the-way spots that aren’t necessarily high-traffic areas, Promobile helped Pepsi create the Dig In Day food truck event that brought incredible food right to the public, transforming brick-and-mortar operations into a mobile kitchen format. Centered around the fully equipped food trucks, events in two cities served some 2,000 visitors.

pepsi dig in day experiential marketing campaign

7. Create High Expectations — then Exceed Them

As the main sponsor of the U.S. Open — one of the tennis world’s most anticipated annual tournaments — Citi wanted to create a series of truly extraordinary culinary experiences before and during the event. Among them: an ambitious live cooking experience working out of a food truck. The result was an unforgettable experience for tennis fans. Six celebrity chefs served signature dishes to 3,650 diners and gave away 8,000 samples over the course of the event’s three-week tour from Washington, DC, to NYC, plus a whole lot of swag and other giveaways.

citi taste of tennis street team marketing

8. Meet Your Audience Where They Are — and Teach Them How to Use Your Product

Food and beverage brand Knorr wanted to promote a new liquid format of Knorr’s Chicken Bouillon, enhance their retailer relationships, and collect names and emails of guests. The approach: handing out 1,500 free tacos made with Knorr Chicken Bouillon at Latin grocery stores. In addition to free tacos, the event included a full complement of swag, like reusable tote bags, tortilla warmers, and recipe card takeaways, plus a 100” screen showing cooking demonstrations and promo videos. While visitors took in the scene (and the tacos), street team members collected data like guests’ demographics, emails, and feedback — valuable information for Knorr to cement their connection with potential new customers.

Knorr Experiential marketing campaign


Promobile Marketing is a dynamic experiential marketing agency based in New York City. For over a decade, Promobile Marketing has collaborated with a range of brands—from budding startups to major CPG brands—on immersive marketing campaigns. Get in touch to discuss your next project.