The debate on your plate

Editor Q+A, News Make a Comment

The Phantom Billstickers e-newsletter Phan Mail is created so sharply and on-topic, that we at M+AD can seldom resist “borrowing” great slabs of it. Here’s a recent illuminating Q&A with a client …

Mmmm, bacon! Add some plump pork sausages and farm-fresh eggs, and you have what many Kiwis would describe as their ideal meal.

Now add another ingredient: ethics. How did that meal come to be on your plate? What were the welfare standards on the farms where those animals were raised? What about the environment, biosecurity and sustainability?

Freedom Farms doesn’t shy away from these issues – in fact, they embrace them. Their brand can be summed up in two words: happy eating. They believe superb food starts with high welfare farming systems. And to make sure shoppers appreciate this, they turned to street posters.

We asked Freedom Farms’ Hilary Pearson, to tell us why she put bacon, sausages and eggs on walls.

Hilary, most brands just want to shift product. You seem to have another mission too. Tell us about it?
“For the past 12 years a lot of our conversations with consumers have been around the animal welfare challenges on New Zealand farms. That’s a really important part of what we do, but there’s a whole farming system that consumers aren’t very engaged with.

“Most people are starting to get a bit more savvy about the environmental challenges of farming – conversations around water quality, biosecurity and nutrient build-ups are starting to happen in the media. We wanted to shine a light on the bigger picture, to show how freedom farming is farming for a better New Zealand.”

So it’s about ideas as well as appetites?
“Freedom Farms is based on the idea that an informed consumer is a powerful consumer. The notion that people can vote with their wallets has been knocking around for a while, but we haven’t seen consumers really flex their muscles yet.

“We’ve seen cool stuff happening with grocery stores committing to cage-free eggs, and we’d love to see more people informed about yuck stuff happening in the imported pork space, but our big hurdle is how New Zealand can be a world leader in sustainable farming. Consumers have the power to make that happen –we just need to stop sending farmers the message that cheap is the only thing we value. Freedom Farms customers get that.”


“Pepper Raccoon transformed our farming standards into this graphic that I never get sick of looking at.”


Why choose street posters to kick-start the debate?
“We felt street posters offered us much better engagement than traditional billboards – we do all our best thinking when we’re on foot. A flash of a billboard while you’re driving past isn’t a great time to ask people to think, so street posters were an exciting proposition for us. They also offer more flexibility when targeting stores that stock our product. That visibility was important to us.”

“Our campaign is about asking people to stop and have those really good ‘food feels’– it’s hard not to salivate looking at bacon, eggs and sausages in a pan – but also think about the things that go in to making that food. We worked with local artist Pepper Raccoon to produce a series of doodles that unpack the elements of our farming system. Pepper took our farming standards and transformed them into this graphic that I never get sick of looking at.”

Did Phantom Billstickers bring anything extra to the table?
“Phantom have been so easy to work with! They’re the original billsticker company in New Zealand and I think they have a good handle on what works and what doesn’t, so their advice has been really solid.

“We also love the aesthetic of their frames. There’s an attention to detail I don’t think you find elsewhere, and we feel like our brand is in good hands.”

THE ISSUES

It’s interesting how a business such as yours is taking a stand on issues beyond dollars and cents.
“We’re starting to grow our understanding of the Māori notion of kaitiakitanga – providing for today as well as tomorrow. Rōpata Taylor described it beautifully in a recent edition of Stone Soup as being about awareness – “considering the consequences of our behaviour and the impact that this will have on people, place and planet.”

“Our relationship with food is one of the most important we have. The way we cook and eat, the way we feed ourselves and the people around us, and where our food comes from, provides a deep vision into our society and how it works. Freedom Farms is really proud of the role we play in that for New Zealanders!”


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