Kid Food Gets a Makeover


You may recognize Kraft Mac N’ Cheese by its distinctive blue box, bright orange color, or the multitude of commercials that air on television during every family sitcom. However, due to concerns about health and safety, several major companies are switching to all-natural food coloring, which means that many of your childhood favorite foods will look a little different in the future.

Among these are the bright-yellow banana peppers at Subway, Trix cereal, and now Kraft Mac N’ Cheese, which will now use tumeric and paprika coloring instead of Yellow 5, which may slightly alter the flavor. Part of the reason for this change can be attributed to a popular food blogger called “The Food Babe,” who pointed out that at least one scientific study in the past has linked Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 to hyperactivity, ability to learn, and “long-term problems” like skin rashes and asthma.

The push toward natural dyes and flavorings and away from overly processed foods has been a gradual movement that has gained traction in the past few years. However, there is still research that suggests that we eat with our eyes, and thus lies the problem of maintaining the appeal of food with bright, inviting colors but keeping the ingredients all-natural.

What Sparks Our Fire: Brands catering to consumer demands and finding healthy alternative to classic childhood foods


McWhopper for World Peace


Burger King released a video proposal on Wednesday as an open letter to its No. 1 competitor McDonald’s, calling for the two burger powerhouses to bury the hatchet in honor of World Peace Day on September 21st.

The fast-food chain proposed a pop-up shop at the halfway between its headquarters in Miami and McDonalds’ headquarters in Chicago, in Atlanta as the middle ground. The shop would exclusively serve “The McWhopper,” half-Big Mac and half-Whopper, designed to “settle the beef” between the two companies for a day. In addition, to the video, the company also created a website illustrating the logistics of the proposal, even featuring an endorsement from nonprofit Peace One Day founder Jeremy Gilley and the recipe for the proposed hybrid burger.

However, the advertisement was seen by some as both a not-so-subtle challenge and a cheap marketing stunt, namely, by the face of McDonald’s himself, who released a public rejection letter of the proposal. “We commit to raise awareness worldwide, perhaps you’ll join us in a meaningful global effort?” wrote Steve Easterbrook, CEO of McDonald’s. “And every day, let’s acknowledge that between us there is simply a friendly business competition and certainly not the unequaled circumstances of the real pain and suffering of war.”

Despite what is clearly a highly-publicized branding move, Burger King seems sincere in its efforts to contribute something meaningful using its status as a popular fast-food chain. McDonald’s seems a little more reluctant to do so, at least in partnership with Burger King.

So who “won”? McDonald’s is making it clear that they refuse to play the game, and in terms of tactics, what was doled out to them as a friendly curveball was slam-dunked over Burger King’s head. But the circumstances of the offer should be taken into account as well. Was it smart or snobby for McDonald’s to reject the offer given that it was for a good cause, especially considering McDonalds’ struggle to stay relevant as of late? You decide.

But all things considered, McDonald’s had better come up with a really great campaign with all this talk of “global awareness.”

What Sparks Our Fire: Creative inter-brand collaborative marketing campaigns (and a little beef)

Daily Dose of Branding-Goodness


What’s the worst aisle in a store like Target? According to method cleaning supplies co-founder Eric Ryan, it’s the vitamin and supplement aisle. Plagued by “uninspiring brands” and left without a clear understanding of the products and what differentiates them, Ryan became determined to shake up the aisle. Signing a 1-year exclusive deal with Target (much like the one method signed over 10 years ago), Ryan was able to create Olly, a new brand of vitamins and supplements that relies just as much on it’s easy-to-understand descriptions and innovative packaging as it does on the actual product. Instead of selling biotin, Olly sells “beauty.” And while the vitamin and supplement market has been growing for the past several years, it’s impressive to note that Olly sold $1 million dollars worth of product in its first two weeks.

Olly’s success only underscores the effects that good branding can have on a product. By adding a dash of creativity to the way they sell Olly, Ryan and his team have been able to change the nature of the vitamin and supplements aisle entirely.

What Sparks Our Fire: Great brand messaging and design that disrupts the space and drives sales.

Is This Packaging Still Effective?


As consumers in a digital age we are constantly marketed to, as result brands continually evolve to differentiate themselves.  In response to the overload of visual stimuli, Mehmet Gözetlik from design group Antrepo gradually took away major components from iconic brand packaging in their latest project, “Minimalist effect in the maximalist market.”

Once the packaging is stripped of its logo and identity is it still effective, or even recognizable as the iconic brand?

The images go in order of variation as follows…
1. Original variation
2. Simple variation
3. More simple variation
4. No logo variation

005 007 010

What Sparks our Fire:  An interesting exploratory on consumer packaging design.

Which variation do you think is the most effective?

The Keurig of Tortillas

Our busy day-to-day oftentimes demands quick food and beverage solutions that offer convenience without sacrificing quality, as demonstrated by pod-based products. Currently, this space is primarily comprised of coffee and tea, however a number of companies are working on new ways to bring the fast, single-serve model to other food items.

Introducing Flatev, a Keurig-like machine that bakes dough pods into warm, fresh tortillas in less than a minute. Like a Keurig, it enables anyone hosting a group to use a “carousel” feature to make several tortillas at one time. And the Flatev is both compact and fast, making it great for food trucks, too. Made with just stoneground corn flour and water, the dough is loaded with fibers, minerals and vitamins as well as non-GMO and gluten-free, appealing to pretty much everyone.

What Sparks Our Fire: A new, quick and easy way to make food on the go

What tortilla-based dishes would you use a Flatev for?