Freshwater’s senior account executive, Sarah Bartlett, looks at how our relationship with food is changing thanks to social media…

They say you eat with your eyes first – so it’s no surprise that food brands and restaurants are now producing food that is arguably more visually stimulating than actually appetising.

The rising popularity of sharing foodie images online has given way to the idea that in the digital age, it is your smart phone that eats before you do - #PhoneEatsFirst.

Taking their cue from the ubiquitous ‘duck and waffle’ dish from the restaurant of the same name, restaurants, brands and chefs are striving for signature foodie masterpieces of their own that will help to put them on the social media map.

The 56 million images tagged using #FoodPorn on Instagram have caught the attention of food manufacturers who are turning to social media and communications experts to help get them a piece of the pie.

As brands compete for attention in a crowded space, the dishes become increasingly unique, unusual and sometimes downright wacky.

Of course, this trend has a dual purpose – to encourage the public to share pics online (to prove to their peers they are on the cutting edge of food trends) and to attract the attention of the media. Journalists are always looking for a new angle, and food that simply ‘tastes nice’ just won’t cut it as news anymore.

The dishes brands create are designed to achieve cult status, not necessarily to make it on to our plates. They are designed to raise brand awareness, to appear creative, innovative and to beat competitors by being well-known in their field. The food industry is notoriously competitive and the element of one-upmanship is evident.

That aside, when brands get it right the results speak for themselves. A cult dish can go viral with the right integrated communication strategy – the Chiltern Firehouse’s crab donuts being a prime example. A point of difference in a crowded market place will get you noticed, but it needs a commitment to both digital and traditional PR to elevate it to cult status.

To find out more about Freshwater’s food & drink experience, read our case studies.


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Impact Report 2017

Impact report 2017