BBDO San Francisco took an unusual approach in promoting endangered plant species for organic food company Seeds of Change as part of its “Save the Flavors” campaign.
The agency teamed up with chef Hugh Acheson, who invited participants to the Empire State Building for a tasting event billed as “Endangered Eats.” Unsurprisingly, under the assumption that the chef was serving endangered animals, not everyone was taken with idea. Expletives were hurled, criticism flooded in as the controversy brought attention to the event. Attendants at the event didn’t know what to expect, with one woman commenting “If they serve bald eagles, I will not be happy.” Another woman asks “Is this edible?” when presented with the first plate. At the end of the meal, Acheson revealed that the only “endangered species” served was the Cherokee Purple Tomato, a delicious-looking heirloom variety listed as “at risk.”
The deceptive nature of the trick event allowed the agency to generate much more attention for the campaign than had they just announced a tasting even featuring an at risk heirloom tomato variety. Those in attendance will certainly remember the nervous anticipation of being served an “endangered species” and subsequent relief of the big reveal, and hopefully support the cause. We’re left wondering if those who expressed outrage when the event was announced bothered to follow up to discover it’s true nature, though.