Meati blind taste test campaign
February 28th, 2024 | 6 min read
  • Brand Activism

Food Brands & Experiential Marketing: Pledging Change

Experiential marketing can be a powerful tool for food and beverage brands to communicate their commitment to making an impact toward change in issues like sustainability, fair trade, and resource depletion. Following are some of the most significant issues around our food system, some insight into how consumers are trying to do their part, and ways brands can use experiential marketing to increase awareness and express their commitment to change.

Food Change: the Issues

Common issues around our food system generally fall into three categories: sustainability, environmental impact, and social/political issues.


Sustainability is one of the issues brands most often talk about in their marketing efforts. Put simply, the issue concerns whether the brand buys its ingredients and materials from sources that are sustainable long term in terms of resources, land use, environmental impact, water, and other factors.

Environmental Impact & Food Waste

Food production has a significant impact on the environment, and that can show up as biodiversity loss, soil degradation, and food waste. Intensive farming practices can contribute to the decline of plant and animal species, reducing biodiversity. Overuse of fertilizers and pesticides can damage soil health, reducing its ability to produce food.

A third of all food produced globally is wasted, which represents a huge loss of resources and contributes to climate change. This has become a hot issue in recent years, as the pandemic strained supply chains and inflation limited consumers’ budgets. Major brands like Hellmann’s have taken up the cause, with multi-media campaigns that promote better food management as well as ways to make use of leftovers.

hellmanns super bowl ad

Social and Political Issues

Social and political issues around the global food system include inequitable access to food and the food system’s treatment of workers. More than 800 million people suffer from hunger globally, while others struggle with obesity and diet-related illnesses. This is often due to poverty, lack of access to nutritious food, and unequal distribution of resources.

Exploitation of farmers and workers is another sociopolitical food issue. Low wages, poor working conditions, and unfair trade practices are common in the food industry, particularly for farmers and workers in developing countries.

Brands Need to Wade in

These are complex, multifaceted issues to which there are no quick, easy, or inexpensive solutions. Trying to avoid discussing or engaging with them might seem like the best way to avoid controversy, but these issues can also impact brands that fail to address them at all.

For decades, most consumers haven’t asked many questions about where their food comes from, how it is produced, and the true cost of their choices. That’s not the case with millennials or Generation Z, an up-and-coming consumer group whose members range in age from young teens to adults in their late 20s.

Gen Z consumers in particular care about these issues and expect brands to be transparent about how, where, and under what conditions they source and manufacture their products. These consumers often seek to support brands that work for change in the food system by addressing these issues in real ways — and they’re leery of brands that make claims but don’t support them with action.

How to Market Around Food Change

Brands can incorporate discussion around food change into their marketing in many ways, using experiential and immersive experiences to discuss supply chain issues, sustainability, environmental impact, and even health benefits.

Case Study: Kettle & Fire

Leading bone broth brand Kettle & Fire staged a pop-up journey through America’s deeply flawed food system to highlight both its products and its pledge to work toward repairing that system.

As part of Kettle & Fire’s broader commitment to offering healthy, nutrient-dense products, the brand committed to sourcing one million pounds of regenerative beef bones by 2025 — a significant step toward a healthier future as well as an example for other brands in the industry.

Kettle & Fire needed a way to talk to consumers about its commitment, the reasons behind it, and the U.S. food system, but this is a complex issue, requiring lots of detail and carefully nuanced messaging. Kettle & Fire needed a way to hold consumers’ attention long enough to take in the full story.

In fall 2023, the brand worked with Promobile Marketing to create a pop-up–activation hybrid event — experiential and immersive — to take attendees on a journey through the flawed food system and the practices Kettle & Fire has adopted for a healthier future.

Staged in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood, the pop-up created an immersive six-part experience. Guests first received a product sample — a cup of Kettle & Fire’s bone broth — then walked through a mock grocery store as a way to identify the unhealthy ingredients hidden in popular, seemingly wholesome foods.

The next section used a life-size projection wall to map changes in farming practices over the last 100 years, while the next explored a comparison of how meat, chicken, and vegetables have changed over time in unsustainable ways that reduce nutrient density.

As a hopeful resolution to these issues, the event offered a wholesome, nutritious Thanksgiving menu curated by a chef/influencer, then ushered guests into a curated pantry that showcased similarly sustainability-minded brands.

Case Study: Meati

Remember the blind taste tests in TV commercials from the 1970s and 1980s? That style of advertising may have long since fallen out of fashion, but the concept is solid: Serve up your product and competitors’ to consumers, then ask them to rank the products.

Seeking feedback about their products and looking for fun ways to put them in front of consumers, meat alternative brand Meati turned to Promobile to create an alternative to the traditional focus group. The result was a brand activation featuring blind taste tests with hundreds of consumers.

Participants tasted Meati, real chicken, and competitor products, then answered questions about the experience. Meati collected tons of honest feedback, influencing future product decisions. Meati’s chicken alternative beat out not only competitor products but also real chicken — solid evidence of its great taste and texture.

For Meati, the event was a resounding experiential marketing win. For participants, the tests were a fun, delicious experience with a type of product — a mushroom-based meat alternative — that may have been unfamiliar to them.

Keep it Authentic

Regardless of your brand’s involvement in or approach to food change, authenticity is key: Consumers will see through greenwashing, so ensure your commitment is genuine and backed by action. By using experiential marketing in a thoughtful, authentic, and creative way, food brands can build trust, connect with consumers on a deeper level, and communicate their commitment to food change in a way that is both impactful and memorable.


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.