Impossible Foods Latches Onto Tiny Food Trend to Tout Eco-Friendly Footprint

'Mini Impact Kitchen' comes from Deloitte Digital for Earth Day

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A teeny pair of fake hands unpacks a minuscule bag of groceries on the way to serving up a fully-loaded burger the size of a human’s pinky nail.

Fans of the tiny food trend will immediately recognize the drill: social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok are stuffed with diminutive dinners cooked and plated for their eye-candy entertainment value.

This particular meal comes from Impossible Foods, latching onto the internet obsession as the centerpiece of its Earth Day campaign. The work, from Deloitte Digital, aims to draw a straight line between the doll-sized dish and the brand’s light environmental footprint.

Several short teaser videos tout eco-friendly stats that say Impossible uses 92% less water, 96% less land and 91% less greenhouse gas emissions to produce than animal beef.

The addition of the Lilliputian hands—plastic props with a diverse range of skin tones—completes the picture. There’s also a hero video with the human influencer behind the Outdoor Mini Cooking account prepping a wee snack.

“We wanted to educate but not have it feel like a lesson,” Leslie Sims, Impossible’s chief marketing and creative officer, told Adweek. “And we’re not just taking off on a trend because we thought it would be cool. It’s a highly conceptual way to marry our message with a trend and show up in a place where the eyeballs are already.”

‘Super Bowl’ for plant-based food

Calling this weekend’s Earth Day “our Super Bowl,” Sims said the brand wants to help consumers better understand the connection between the plate and the planet. Many people—83% overall and 86% of the 18- to 34-year-old demo—look to social channels for advice on living greener, per Impossible. 

The creative thread that runs through the “Mini Impact Kitchen” videos will extend to the media buy this weekend, with the company running the smallest ads possible in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, the Houston Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune, each measuring only a few inches tall.

Though mini kitchen-style clips have amassed nearly 2 billion views on TikTok, with more than 40,000 videos on Instagram, the trend that has its roots in Japan and started more than five years ago shows no sign of slowing, per the partners.

“It seemed like such a natural moment in time for Impossible to jump in,” Kenny Gold, managing director at Deloitte Digital, told Adweek. “It shows that you can have highly crafted social content that still feels scrappy and organic to channels like TikTok.”

Sims, a Deloitte alum who started her Impossible gig early this year, said the Earth Day work is a precursor to a significant summer campaign set to coincide with the traditional grilling season.

Fake meat backlash

After record-busting sales during the pandemic, faux meat has struggled at retail more recently. Sales of refrigerated meat alternatives decreased by 15.5% for the 52 weeks ending Jan. 29, per IRI, with even the growing popularity of Veganuary failing to give the category a boost.

Despite a well-publicized backlash against products in the space, criticized for their premium price and processed ingredients, Impossible has bucked the trend with retail sales that jumped more than 50% in 2022, per the company.

The Silicon Valley-based brand has expanded its offerings to include a leaner version of its flagship beef substitute, called Impossible Beef Lite, and more fake chicken products.

Even with those gains, CEO Peter McGuinness said in February the company doesn’t plan an IPO in 2023, following two rounds of employee layoffs.

Bolstering its marketing is a priority, McGuinness told Adweek last fall when the company announced Sims as its first chief marketing and creative officer, with Sherene Jagla joining in January as Impossible’s first chief demand officer.

According to Sims, “Mini Impact Kitchen” is intended to be a step in the direction of “getting our message out in as many places as possible, improving the narrative and pointing out the why.”