Land O’Lakes Used Its SXSW Space to Teach People About Tech and the Future of Food

The brand worked with Microsoft and Nat Geo on activation

At SXSW, Land O'Lakes showcased how food, agriculture and technology intersect. Courtesy of Land O'Lakes
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Land O’Lakes really wants people to know where their food comes from and how it is really produced. The brand also wants people to know that it is more than just a company that makes butter—it’s also an agricultural co-op that uses technology to help solve the problem of feeding the world in the future.

With that in mind, Land O’Lakes worked with agency Colle McVoy and Civic to create a 6,000-square-foot space at SXSW in Austin, Texas, called “The Food Effect.”

“If you know what we do and that we lean so heavily into technology, SXSW is really the perfect place to tell our story,” Tim Scott, Land O’Lakes CMO, said. “Because of our scale, we have the ability to tell a much bigger story, and we know the story that has to be told is how we feed the world. And that has to be done through technology.”

The brand partnered with Nat Geo and Microsoft to fill its SXSW space with interactive elements to showcase how food, agriculture and technology intersect.

The activation featured three different interactive elements. In one area, Land O’Lakes had a giant head of lettuce people could put their own heads inside to check out a VR experience on innovative farming. There was also a Ford Bronco—found at a local salvage yard—covered in soil. The team cut off the front third of the car to demonstrate that soil absorbs carbon dioxide.

“Land O’Lakes wants to be provocative,” Mark Andersen, Colle McVoy group creative director, said. “They want to capture people’s attention to prove a point in an interesting way and draw them in to be part of this conversation so Land O’Lakes can sincerely help move food forward,”

There was also an interactive DNA helix to teach people about bio-fortification hacking and a giant wall of telephones playing recordings of people either struggling with hunger or those trying to solve hunger across the world. (For an inside look at the space and some of the activations take a look at Adweek’s day at SXSW video.)

“We wanted to bring partners in who weren’t just in the food and agriculture business because … we wanted to reach people outside of those sectors, but also because the future of food is going to involve people from technology fields and sociology fields and logistic fields,” Andersen said.

The space also included a stage from which the brand conducted sessions on topics ranging from what it’s like to be a modern farmer to food security.

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.