Garde-Manger Pour Tous makes a half-empty advent calendar

The Montreal non-profit is using the idea of "emptiness" to stand out and build on its messaging about food insecurity.

GMPT & CossetteGarde-Manger Pour Tous is explaining that there are haves and the have nots when it comes to access to healthy food, creating an advent calendar that reveals chocolate on some days, but empty squares on others.

Garde-Manger Pour Tous is a non-profit that aims to combat food insecurity in Montreal, namely by delivering hot meals to children and supporting projects that promote healthy eating. Ghislaine Théoret, director of the non-profit, tells strategy that the advent calendar – created with agency partner Cossette – is a way to engage with parents and to get them to start having conversations with their children about food insecurity (according to its own research, an estimated one in six Canadian children are faced with food insecurity, and the Montreal area has the highest child poverty rate in the province of Quebec).

To further amplify the omnichannel message aimed at potential Montreal donors, Cossette Media partnered with popular Quebec-based recipe blog 3 fois par jour to execute a one-day rebranding featuring a new logo, a new name (0 fois par jour, or “Zero Times a Day”), and pages that showed empty plates and recipe cards. According to Théoret, the creative media approach allowed the Garde-Manger to intercept visitors to the website at the exact moment they were planning their holiday menus.

Théoret says the organization has used the tagline, “Help Us Fill The Emptiness” since 2014, and the empty plate – which is also featured in out-of-home creative – has become a symbol of the non-profit’s mission as a stunt to demonstrate the scale of Garde-Manger’s daily work of filling 3,000 plates a day. She says given how many nonprofits there are, “it’s important for us to be able to distinguish ourselves and to build awareness of who we are.” By owning the idea of filling the “emptiness” year-over-year, she says Garde-Manger’s mission has become better known.

The holiday season is a key moment for not-for-profits as people tend to be more generous during that period, she says. “It’s also a very busy period advertising wise: several not-for-profits are competing for contributions and need to differentiate themselves from the market. We hope that the campaign did just that.”

Garde-Manger Pour Tous received support from media partners like Astral Media, Bell Media, La Presse, OBOX., Outfront, Ricardo Media and UB Media in extending the reach of its holiday campaign.