The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) wanted to commemorate its 75 years of advancing the science of food. It also wanted to do something big—the anniversary coincided with a rise in anti–food science sentiment, and there was an opportunity, and a need, to change the debate with a campaign that celebrated all the ways advances in food technology improve lives around the world.
Since we had an ongoing relationship with IFT—we helped the organization commemorate its 50th anniversary in 1989—we were invited to the planning meeting to help ideate how to commemorate their 75th.
Realizing that we needed to change the negative rhetoric around lab-created “Frankenfood,” our recommendation was to shift IFT from their normal trade-focused online communications to launch a campaign that would reach consumers, capture their attention and invite them to celebrate the potential of food science. IFT leadership loved the idea, and we developed FutureFood 2050.
FutureFood 2050 focused on a question: How will we find sustainable solutions that will feed the projected 9 billion people living in 2050?
Answers to that question became the center of the campaign, reflected in the speech bubble in our logo and the tagline, “How ingenuity will feed the world.” Seventy-five leaders in science and innovation and influencers and personalities in the food world and beyond shared their thoughts in interviews conducted by professional journalists and published on FutureFood2050.com and in other media outlets. The website also contains videos, podcasts and infographics, all designed to showcase how food science is delivering solutions to improve global health and increase the food supply.
Additionally, the campaign included a full-length documentary film directed by Academy Award–nominee Scott Hamilton Kennedy and narrated by renowned scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The film, “Food Evolution,” examines the question of how to best feed the world through the lens of the debate over the safety and efficacy of genetically modified foods. Enlisting scientists and activists from both sides, the filmmakers explored the evidence, as well as the emotion, fueling the controversy over GMOs.
During the anniversary year, more than 40,000 food scientists were engaging with FutureFood 2050 content each month, along with thousands of everyday consumers. The campaign also had a strong social media presence, including a Facebook page with more than 675 likes, a Twitter account with more than 1,100 followers and a LinkedIn group with 158 followers.
“Food Evolution” was screened across the country and internationally, was nominated for Best Film at the Cleveland International Film Festival and garnered positive reviews in major papers. The Los Angeles Times wrote that it was “calm, careful, potentially revolutionary,” and the Seattle Times called it a “gripping documentary.” The film was also well received among academics and food industry experts.
IFT itself was also very pleased with the campaign. IFT leadership and members, who often take attacks on food science personally, said they were grateful to see their side so well represented in FutureFood 2050 content.