Food Advertising Creative Attempts a Return to Normalcy


After struggling to find their creative voice during the pandemic, food advertisers started moving toward a new normalcy in their messaging with the apparent decline of the coronavirus. But with the Delta variant now hot on COVID’s heels, who knows how long this trend will last? At least for the moment we all can enjoy a less conservative tone in our ad viewing, as food marketers start to reach for big ideas once again without fretting so much about appropriateness for the times. 

Fashion tie-ins and nostalgia are among creative approaches trending at the moment, as folks become open to more lighthearted topics once again. Some food companies have also begun to directly reference the end of quarantine with ads celebrating the restored ability to eat out with friends. And thankfully, humor is making a comeback too. The following are some of the food creative that broke through and caught our eye recently. If you prefer, you can also view a video version of this blog below.

McDonald’s – Saweetie Meal

The Saweetie Meal is the fourth version of McDonald’s Famous Orders series. Previous Famous Orders featured star-studded partnerships with music artists J Balvin, Travis Scott and BTS. Rap star Saweetie’s order includes a Big Mac, four-piece Chicken McNuggets, medium fries, a medium Sprite, barbecue and “Saweetie and Sour” sauces. 

Fans can also order a side of merch. The self-proclaimed “Icy Princess’s” McDonald’s tie-in clothing collection includes specialty hoodies, T-shirts, a trucker hat, shorts and sweatpants, all designed with her signature glitzy style in mind.

Kraft-Heinz – Puma X Kool Aid

Another food and fashion collaboration can be seen in the Kool-Aid and Puma partnership. The two brands have joined forces to launch a kid’s apparel line just in time for back-to-school. Puma X Kool-Aid shoes, T’s and hoodies combine splashy raspberry, strawberry, and grape Kool-Aid flavor colors with the classic Puma logo, mixing old-school nostalgia with a sporty, contemporary vibe. The limited-edition line is available for purchase at both Kids Foot Locker and Champs nationwide. Designs also include the popular Kool-Aid Man brand icon. We can only assume the shoes help him get a good running start for bursting through brick walls as he’s so famous for.

Goldfish Crackers – 90’s Pants

Another CPG brand, Campbell Soup Company’s Goldfish Crackers, is introducing its new Jalapeño Popper flavor with a nod to ‘90s nostalgia. Jalapeño Poppers were big in the ‘90s, as were baggy, big-pocketed JNCO jeans. So to help introduce their new flavor, Goldfish has partnered with JNCO to create an exclusive pair of the iconic pants, available online for $200. Encouraging eaters to “grab a handful of the ‘90s”, they’ve also finally given the jeans a purpose for their massive pockets. They’re perfect for holding a bag of Goldfish.

Pizza Hut – PacMan AR Box

As part of its NEWstalgia campaign that’s bringing back iconic pizzas of the past, Yum Brands’ Pizza Hut has taken a classic in-restaurant experience and updated it via augmented reality. The famed arcade game PacMan, once a big draw at Pizza Hut restaurants everywhere, can now be played on Pizza Hut pizza boxes with your smartphone. All you have to do is scan the QR code on the box, and soon you’ll be chasing and devouring famed ghosts Blinky, Pinky and Inky virtually. Even better, you don’t have to keep feeding quarters into a coin slot after every game.

DoorDash – “Soul of the City” Documentary

DoorDash supported restaurants during the pandemic through its Reopen for Delivery initiative via cutting commissions on food delivery. In many instances, delivery kept those businesses alive when people couldn’t patronize them otherwise. Now, DoorDash pays tribute to the resilience of restaurants in a short film that recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Entitled “Soul of the City,” the moving documentary celebrates the return of in-restaurant dining with friends. 

Sir Kensington’s – Edible Billboard

Sir Kensington’s condiments has created a clever outdoor campaign and PR activation all in one. They started by erecting a large billboard on a New York City street bearing a mouthwatering image of a burger and fries smothered in their condiments. A stern headline warned passersby that the billboard was not to be eaten. Pieces of the board were then removed in bite-shaped chunks over the course of several days. To protect the board from further consumption, Sopranos’ actor Steve Schirripa was finally hired to defend it. The result was a humorous video of himself in action posted on his Instagram page.

Sir Kensington's Edible Billboard

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