Shopper Innovation Awards: Veg Food Fest changes minds

To disrupt traditional notions around veg food and culture, the brand and its agency aimed to demonstrate tastiness.

This story appears in the May 2015 issue of strategy.

Bronze: Small Budget, Big Impact

The Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival had a problem – only vegetarians and vegans found veg food appealing enough to attend its event.

People choose to attend festivals based on the potential for a satisfying taste experience. But some people think veg food is bland and restrictive. It also carries the stigma attached to veg culture: people associate it with animal activism and moral superiority.

To disrupt traditional notions, the organization and Leo Burnett surprised people by showing them veg food can be delicious.

“Change Your Mouth’s Mind” launched with a new brand identity for the organization, renaming it Veg Food Fest. The redesign also introduced a visual icon based on gardening culture – a planter tag.

Next, the organization partnered with restaurants, inviting them to place the branded planter tags in their vegetarian menu items. Leo Burnett also placed wild postings downtown and digital out-of-home posters in high-traffic areas and on transit routes.

To prove that eating veg doesn’t require flavour sacrifice, the organization hosted a pop-up event prior to the festival to give out free corndogs. As the corndogs were eaten, their sticks revealed the message “This Little Piggy Wasn’t a Piggy” and drove people to the festival website.

The organization also distributed seed packets for people to grow ingredients for a veg burger, cupcake or sausage.

With no change in budget (versus 2013), the 2014 Veg Food Fest was a success with an attendee increase of 25%. Vendor sales also increased by 9.2% and based on on-site surveys, 70% of the first-time festival attendees were non-vegetarians.


Advertiser: Toronto Vegetarian Association
Agency: Leo Burnett
CCO: Judy John
CDs: Lisa Greenberg, Sean Ohlenkamp
CW: Marty Hoefkes
AD: Mike Morelli
Designer: Man Wai Wong, Ryan Crouchman
Agency producer: Barry Durocher
Account supervisor: Spring Morris
Group account director: David Kennedy