Food Advertising Creative Taps Popular Trends From A.I. to Cannabis


In this quarter’s food marketing creative trends report, the “food meets fashion” trend continues with QSR brands collaborating with popular shoemakers. Meanwhile, AI continues to impact the CPG category, and mainstream restaurant chains court cannabis culture. Finally, Pop-Tarts wins the internet with a college bowl game victory stunt that goes viral.

McDonald’s – Crocs Collab

McDonald’s is leveraging the love for its popular characters by teaming up with Crocs on a footwear collection of its own. The styles include purple Grimace sandals lined with faux fur, and black and white striped Hamburglar clogs, each with their own matching socks. The shoes come with attachable McDonald’s-themed charms like milkshakes and are being promoted on the brands’ Insta accounts.


Doritos – Crunch-Canceling Software

Doritos claims to have become the world’s first AI-augmented snack. The sound of people crunching while gaming has long been a pet peeve of Doritos-loving gamers interacting through their headsets. So Doritos has created “Doritos Silent” – a free software download featuring AI trained to mute the crunch of the brand’s chips. Doritos claims the tech can detect over 3 million types of crunches, having been trained on over 5,000 different Doritos crunches. Its AI works in real time to separate it from gamers’ voices before transmitting them.


Steak-umm – Deep Fakes

Steak-umm is 100% real beef, so they want to be 100% real with consumers. At a recent focus group, vegans were asked to eat a plant-based steak sandwich and speak about their commitment to an animal-free diet. However, moments later, when a video of their comments was played back to them, the participants on screen were stating that they had eaten real beef and were now converting to carnivores. The shocked vegans were then informed that they had been “Deep-Steaked” with AI-based deepfake technology twisting their responses. The point of the altered video is to help educate people about the dangers of AI being used to misinform and defraud the public and to get them to sign a petition to support the Deep Fake Accountability Act.


Magnolia Bakery – Edibles Collab

Magnolia Bakery wants consumers to get baked with its baked goods. They’ve partnered with Green Thumb edibles to create THC-infused snack bars based on their famous banana pudding and red velvet cake flavors. Now, their craveable creations aren’t just the cure for the munchies. They can also be the cause. It’s the latest in the growing cannabis industry’s efforts to help destigmatize its products by aligning with mainstream food brands.


Fatburger – Cannabis Condiment

Another eatery chain cashing in on the cannabis craze is Fatburger. They’ve aligned with edibles maker Kiva Confections to create the first ever “canndiment” in the form of THC-infused ketchup. The promotion aims to aid cannabis normalization and benefit from the increased interest in cannabis as it continues to work its way into consumers’ everyday lifestyles.


Jack in the Box – Weedmaps

Jack in the Box has become the first fast food outlet to advertise on Weedmaps, a popular online resource for cannabis fans. In doing so, they continue to target the demo. Past ads have featured stoners ordering offerings, including their Snoop Dog “Merry Munchie Meal” and “Wakey Bakey Hash” at their late-night drive-thru. It’s another example of food brands supporting the marijuana movement on its path to widespread legalization and acceptance.


Pop Tarts – College Football Stunt

In the tradition of foods sponsoring college bowl games, Pop-Tarts hosted a bowl of its own and stole the show with its edible mascot. At the end of the game, a human toaster pastry was lowered into a giant toaster on the field. Moments later, a massive actual toaster pastry emerged from the bottom of the toaster and was instantly devoured by the victorious Kansas State Wildcat players, leaving only the mascot’s uneaten left eye. The hilarious stunt went viral on YouTube, with one fan calling it “the single greatest moment in sports history.” 

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