Our food system is at a tipping point -- four of the top five causes of death in the US are food related, climate change continues to threaten food production, and antibiotic resistant superbugs, resulting in part from antibiotic use in food animals, have been cited by the UN as a global health emergency.
Transparency and sustainability in the food industry are championed by a few key players. One of them, Panera, has proven leadership by being the first to use antibiotic free meats, first to label sugar and grains, first to remove "No No" ingredients and first to go "clean" menu-wide... to name a few.
But, it's not just chefs and big companies that tip the scale; it will take an army of heroes, big and small, to make real, lasting change when it comes to the future of food. So, Panera set out to create a platform that invites consumers into the mission.
The challenge: make food policy issues both entertaining and accessible to drive substantial change.
Food policy may be complicated with many interconnected issues, but it can also be as simple as understanding how many ingredients are in your eggs, how much added sugar is in your beverage and what the animals that you eat, eat. Enter 'Food Interrupted,' a new series that brings leaders in the food world, like Marcus Samuelsson, Rainn Wilson, Hannah Hart, Sam Talbot, Chris Cosentino and Kevin Curry, together with everyday heroes at the front lines of issues including: clean food, animal welfare, sugar, transparency and the future of food.
This digitally led, integrated content platform lives across Facebook Watch, Soul Pancake's YouTube channel, talent profiles, Panera's brand channels, in Cafe offerings, television insterstitals, influencer posts, partnerships and press, to reach a wide audience and drive cultural impact.
Each episode teaches and encourages simple actions that can improve the way we all eat, thereby changing the food industry from the inside out. So, each week, we invited consumers to commit to a new food behavior with platform-specific activations.
For our sugar episode with chef Sam Talbot, we partnered with Beyond Type 1 to raise $60,000 by asking fans to help us reach our goal through social actions, each of which equalled a dollar donation by Panera. As the series progressed, we learned that our fans love Giphy stickers. So, we created a custom suite of IG Stickers and gave consumers simple instructions for how to get involved. By using giphy stickers and emojis across all owned channels, consumers helped drive more than 120K engagements and led to this being the most mentioned Facebook Watch video that week (~4 million views), with the highest social views for the series.
Other actions included: committing to #MeatlessMonday and trying plant-based recipes (available with a limited time offer on the menu at Panera from Kevin Curry), trying whole grains (and making your own bread!), demanding ingredient transparency (and only eating whole eggs vs competitive eggs with up to 16 additives), and eating responsibly raised meats (don't worry; we made a shopping guide to make it easy!).
And, we surrounded all that with a slew of educational content to expand on the food policy issues, with activations like a Facebook Live with Hannah Hart, a conversation between Panera CEO and Sam Talbot on their personal diabetes journeys, and a treat from internet legend @TasteofStreep.
The series proved that America has an appetite for change, that people care about what they consume, and that they support Panera leading that charge. Early results show that content exceeded benchmarks:
17MM+ episode views to date
317MM+ earned impressions (100MM+ over goal)
162K+ brand mentions (100MM+ over goal)
50MM+ follower reach across platforms
67% joy sentiment (10% over goal) in paid media
56% lift in brand favorability (revealing an equal % lift in purchase intent)
And, best of all, consumers stepped up to the plate:
Raised $60,000 for Beyond Type 1 with 129K social mentions, driving massive awareness around sugar consumption.
Launched a limited time offer at Panera with Plants Interrupted's Kevin Curry for #MeatlessMonday. His post was the highest driver of mentions from a talent post (2,166 mentions) for the series and encouraged people to try eating plant-based eating at least once per week.
Exposed competitors' lack of ingredient transparency using eggs (and Hannah Hart) as the driver, leading to the series' most engaging content.
Rainn Wilson partnered with instagrammer @TasteofStreep to hilariously highlight what clean eating really means, and that Panera has a 100% clean food menu. This was the most shared episode (~6K shares) and some of the most engaging content for the series — more than 18K engagements received on the Taste of Rainn content, more than half of @tasteofstreep's average engagement.
With Food Interrupted, Panera sought to change the food industry from the inside out, and will continue to do so with the help of their growing army of food policy advocates.
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