Kim Kardashian


Food. Probably the “thing” most people can love and hate at the same time; we love to enjoy delicious dishes, but hate to do without it because of special diets. But the spread of TV shows such as Top Chef all around the world gives evidence to our relation with food. Besides, based on the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the total food wastage is estimated to amount to 1.3 billion tons annually. But how to be sustainable in our way of consuming food, especially when the reign of monoculture, use of chemicals and international exports are part of our today’s food chain?

Eating organic, buying items with less packaging, become locavore, vegetarians or vegans are some possibilities. However, the challenge here is to remain consistent with what is said and done. Because trend followers telling you as simple argument “I cannot eat meat because animals are so badly treated” or giving you speeches about pets’ welfare, but are delighted when they are offered leather items and are craving for a piece of foie gras, make their action lose total credibility… However, the purpose here is not to highlight once again the hypocrisy (or ignorance) of these people, but to see how food can be a good way of communicating on sustainable lifestyle. This communication is growing; a spin-off of Top Chef TV program dedicated to food waste was broadcasted last autumn in France.

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Source: Top Chef TV program around the world – USA, France, Finland, Middle East, Vietnam, Chile

Locavore phenomenon
After the rise of vegetarians and the spread of vegans, now let’s make place to… locavores! In our globalized world, getting used to a diet that makes us eat products only produced within an area of 200 km… is quite of a challenge, especially if we are living in a big city. Not only getting provisioned is difficult, but temptation is also everywhere and so accessible! Although the economic benefits can be discussed, being locavore is a sustainable way of consuming, since it contributes to carbon emissions reductions – less transports in the whole supply chain – and supports local farmers. However, locavore does not mean being an organic-food consumer, since products to be consumed do not need to be organically grown.  In France, a TV program “200km à la ronde” (within 200 km) – an adaptation of the Canadian program “The 100 Mile Challenge” –  was broadcasted in 2012, where 5 families were followed during their locavore month and tips for new habits were given. Imagine an adaptation in Istanbul. No tea breaks anymore (!) since tea would be out of the diet, even if Halkalı and Tuzla are considered as departing points for the locavore limit. But good point, organizations may (finally) become efficient!

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Source: Locavore challenge TV program in Canada and in France

Chefs’ initiatives
France is well-known for its gastronomy and love for good meals. After all, Michelin guide is a French creation and an international reference! But how to conciliate gastronomy with sustainability? Where serving only organic dishes or meals made from locally grown products can be a business risk, some French chefs dared to go further. Jean Montagard is promoting vegetarian cuisine for over 25 years. His first vegetarian restaurant, L’Artisan Gourmand, opened in 1978 in South of France! Other grand chefs followed such lead. In 2001, Alain Passard removed red meat from the restaurant L’Arpege’s menu to focus on vegetables; Alain Ducasse, did the same last September at his famous Plaza Athénée and Joel Robuchon planned to offer a vegetarian cuisine at his L’Atelier in Mumbai (initially scheduled for end 2014).  Got hungry?

Good fishing?
Not vegan, but vegetarian restaurants offer fish and seafood. But, as you may know, there is a season for fish and all fish are not equal. For example, the deep-sea perch (hoplostethus atlanticus) can start reproduction at the age of 30, whereas sardines can reproduce from 2. Facing overfishing, some restaurants are offering season’s fish only and some retailers are even offering labelled Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) fish. BLOOM, a French NGO, which aims to protect the oceans by raising awareness about environmental issues, has established in 2013 a ranking of French supermarkets based on criteria related to ethical fishing. After the Michelin Guide, the BLOOM guide?

Ugly but so tasty
Because beauty is unfortunately associated with quality, selling ugly food would be unthinkable. The look is the most used marketing technique to attract consumers, such as nice green packaging with real labels or labels-wannabe. A sense, like the taste, is hard to materialize as selling tool. With the label “Les gueules cassées” (the broken faces) and then “Quoi ma Gueule?” (You got a problem with my face?), the French association Les gueules cassées have found a solution against food waste. Because they are ugly and do not match with the standards, fruits and vegetables are thrown away. And this represents more than 30% of French agricultural production! In the UK, Waitrose sold last Summer varieties of apples grown in their farms in South Africa, Kenya and Ghana, which were hit by bad weather in early 2014 and left 70% of their total crops damaged according to The Independent.


Unfortunately in our superficial world, the label that would be the most successful might be: “Eaten by Kim Kardashian” or maybe “Look like Kim”! Inspired by the success of my previous article in terms of clicks, another possibility could be to create packaging that reminds us bottoms like did a fruit vendor from Nanjing, China, for the Qixi festival! What do you think?


Let’s face it; sustainability sounds like a boring subject, where related campaigns summoned people about their doings and wrong doings. So how can organizations and brands communicate better in their sustainability-oriented campaigns and make them be sexy rather than annoying? Sadly, writing the message “save the planet” on Kim Kardashian’s, Jennifer Lopez’s, Nicky Minaj’s or Iggy Azalea’s bottoms may be the best solutions nowadays. More seriously, do environmental and social issues need to be sexy to be looking at?

Sustainability is actually the new sexy, since more and more organizations and brands are appealed by it; turning their products, services and messages towards it. But what is sexy to brands and organizations may not be that enticing to people. The basics in marketing communications are using means and messages that reach the mass. To do so, the audience needs to whether identify itself to the message or find it so crazy that it creates a buzz – Kim’s butt versus Philae. And the easiest rule of basic campaigns is: the sexier, the better. But how can we turn sustainability as a sexy subject? Maybe “sexy” should be understood as “attractive”. Create campaigns on sustainability that attract people, and raise their interest in the subject.

However, most of the messages so far are still the same; alarming us about the impacts of environmental pollution and other social disasters. Does it mean that there is a lack of originality in this new sexiness or a lack of creativity in conveying messages? Besides, being just drowning under campaigns, telling you how bad the situation is and how bad your actions are may probably have only the opposite effect. Being summoned may only lead to having people switch off their TV, their radio or just turn the page of their magazine. Living in rich countries put us far away from what the poorest people are living daily – war, environmental disasters, hunger, disease – so raising our awareness about what is currently and actually happening is necessary. But should we keep on showing just alarming aspects? This does not sound really sexy to promote a brand or an organization…


Physical attractiveness

Art is a great communication means to attract people’s attention on major problems. End October, in Copenhagen the UN IPCC has presented its 5th Assessment report. For this occasion, the artist Olafur Eliasson and the geologist Minik Rosing placed the installation “Ice Watch” in front of Copenhagen’s City Hall Square. This was both a perfect illustration and a physical experience of the climate change effect for the audience. Alarming? Yes. But it worked: people’s curiosity was tickled.

Ice Watch

Source: The Ice Watch by Olafur Eliasson and Minik Rosing – photo 1photo 2


Tell it to attract

Personification of nature in movies has now become quite common to convey alarming messages. Nature was animated with a desire for revenge against humans in M. Night Shyamalan’s movie, The Happening. More recently, the Nolan brothers showed us in Interstellar that Nature takes its own path, becoming unlivable for humans. Quite fatalist right? Well, TBWA used the idea of movie production to create Conservation International’s (CI) last campaign: “Nature is speaking”. Because celebrities are probably the best ambassadors to promote brands, NGOs and the UN have also used them to promote key messages related to sustainable matters. And because celebrities’ voices can also be sexy – remember Scarlett Johansson in Spike Jonze’s movie, Her – but above all attract people’s attention thanks to their fame, TBWA used them in the CI campaign. Nature is giving a voice, and not any voice. Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford, Kevin Spacey, Edward Norton, Penélope Cruz, Robert Redford and Ian Somerhalder have all lead roles: they are Nature and they tell us “Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature”. Alarming? Yes. But, the message is based on facts and is delivered with irony, which makes us stand back, reconsider ourselves, and think.

Alarming are the facts. But, using them as an attractive way to convey a message to people is probably today’s challenge for creative professionals, to make sustainable the actual new sexy.